Protesters are continuing to demonstrate outside the Northern Virginia home of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen over anger stemming from the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy and separation of children and adults for detention.
Holding signs that read “Child Snatcher” and a banner reading “Immigrants are #HereToStay,” the protesters on Friday chanted “Shame!” and “No justice, no sleep!” on megaphones and played a recording of crying children who had been separated from their parents after being arrested at the border. The protest was organized by the CREDO Action progressive activist group, which has collected tens of thousands of signatures on an online petition asking for Nielsen’s resignation.
Protester Boyd Walker said he saw Nielsen leave for work from the back of her house.
“This is the tactic of the entire administration, to blame other people, to blame Congress, to blame the Democrats,” Walker said. “The separation of children was caused by a change in policy on May 7, to criminalize immigrants as opposed to giving them civil fines for a misdemeanor, but by changing the law, you can’t keep kids and parents together, and that’s what changed, and why 2,300 kids have been separated from their parents, and that’s just in one month.”
On June 13, after helping President Trump draft an executive order suspending family separations, Nielsen was confronted by protesters while having dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Washington. A video clip of the encounter went viral on social media.
“How can you enjoy a Mexican dinner as you’re deporting and imprisoning tens of thousands of people who come here seeking asylum in the United States?” a protester asked Nielsen.
The following day, Nielsen called on Congress to act on immigration reform and said the executive branch did everything it could on the issue.
“This is a very difficult and complex issue, as you know. It’s one that presidents have struggled with it for decades, it’s one that Congress has struggled with for decades,” Nielsen said at the Capitol Hill National Security Forum. “What the president did yesterday was to try to make clear that what we don’t need to do as Americans is pit the enforcement of law against our humanitarian ideals. We need to do both at the same time. So, what he (President Trump) tried to do enables us to do that until Congress acts, and I want to be very clear on this, Congress has the responsibility and the authority to make the law of the land and to fix the immigration system.”
Then on Friday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was asked to leave by the owner of the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va. On Saturday, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) drew national attention when, at a rally in Los Angeles and on television, she called on protesters to confront and harass Trump administration officials at places such as eateries and gas stations to sound off against the zero-tolerance policy at the southern border.
Trump responded by tweeting, “Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”
A protest outside Nielsen’s home was canceled Monday after a lack of U.S. Secret Service vehicles indicated that she went to work early. On Tuesday, a small group of protesters with the D.C. chapter of Gays Against Guns gathered at around 8 p.m., some heard hurling obscenities at the home.
“You deserve to be tried for crimes against humanity,” said protester Aaron William. “These human beings are fragile, and you damaged them. You broke them. You had no right to do that. Your boss sucks, too. Send him back to Russia.”