WASHINGTON — In a dramatic scene on Capitol Hill, five Democratic members of Congress protested directly in front of President Donald Trump as he departed a Republican meeting Tuesday.
The members — all part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus — held signs that read “Families Belong Together” and stood before cameras and reporters while waiting outside of the Republican gathering.
When US Capitol Police began clearing the hallways and staging for Trump’s departure, the members assembled themselves within the President’s anticipated walking path. Trump then started to make his way out of the building, and the members shouted and held up their signs — all within inches of him as he walked past.
“Stop separating our families,” Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, shouted. “We won’t go away!”
The President briefly stopped in front of them and appeared to ignore them as he reached his arm in the air to wave to the cameras and reporters behind the group of members.
Vargas, who represents California’s 51st District, continued to shout as the President walked away, urging him to “quit separating the kids.”
“Mr. President, don’t you have kids? Don’t you have kids, Mr. President?” he continued.
The tense encounter came amid bipartisan uproar over a recently-enforced policy by the Trump administration of prosecuting immigrants who cross into the United States illegally, which results in detention and separation from their children.
Trump has falsely blamed Democrats for laws that say children can’t be detained for more than 20 days, and on Tuesday he called on Democrats to work with Republicans to fix the system so that families can stay in detention together.
“We need Democrat support,” Trump told a group of business owners in Washington earlier Tuesday. “They don’t want to give it because Democrats love open borders. Let the whole world come in — MS13, gang members from all over the place, come on in.”
It’s unlikely Democrats will support current Republican proposals to fix the situation, as they feel that detaining children with their parents is not the solution, either.
Other members who protested Tuesday included Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the chair of the caucus; Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York; Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California; and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan also of California.
“This is not America,” a visibly angry Espaillat told reporters.