On Thursday, the progressive organization Families Belong Together assembled a nationwide series of demonstrations demanding immigration reform. Thousands of protesters rallied against the “zero-tolerance” immigration policy enacted by the Trump administration, which allows the separation of children and parents who cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Protesters proclaimed their disapproval of conditions immigrant families face in private, for-profit detention centers.

The protest in Washington, D.C., illuminated the inhumane treatment of detained immigrant families through stories and testimonials from supporters, medical professionals and congressional members striving for reform.

One especially emotional moment was felt by hundreds of rallygoers when U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., shared her experience visiting a federal Bureau of Prisons facility near Seattle on Saturday. At the detention center, immigrants told the congresswoman of their inhumane treatment:

“They [detained immigrants] call them [detention centers] nicknames like the ‘icebox’ and ‘dog pound.’ ‘Ice box’ because there were such rigidly cold temperatures. Many of the women crossed the Rio Grande and came across the river soaking wet and then were put into this freezer. No blankets, no mattresses, and no clean drinking water. … The ‘dog pound’ was called that because they were kept in kennels and cages. They looked like a dog pound.”

Jayapal, who co-introduced and supports the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, went on to say that some women were placed in separate rooms from their children “where they could hear them [the children] screaming for them.” Other mothers were separated from their children under the false pretense that the centers were giving the children “showers.”

New York Congressman Eliot Engel, who could become chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee should the House flip in the midterm elections, was the next congressperson to speak against the immigration policy change: “What happens is the parents don’t know where the children are, the children don’t know where the parents are. We say this is patriotism? Shame on us.”

The crowd chanted “Shame!” in agreement.

The rally’s last word came from one of the many children in attendance. Standing amid a crowd of protesters, a child shouted: “Show me what family looks like!”

The crowd of immigrants, supporters and children responded in unison: “This is what family looks like.”

Watch the Facebook Live video from the Families Belong Together demonstration in Washington, D.C., here:

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