Hundreds Arrested During Women’s Immigration Protest in Washington

More than 500 people, including at least one member of Congress, were arrested and escorted from the Philip A. Hart Senate Office Building on Thursday after staging a sit-in during a women-led march against the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” approach to illegal immigration.

The United States Capitol Police charged approximately 575 people with unlawfully demonstrating, a misdemeanor punishable by a $50 fine, according to a police spokeswoman. Those arrested included Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, and the actress Susan Sarandon. Organizers said more than 2,500 women from 47 states participated in the protest.

Senator Tammy Duckworth, Democrat of Illinois, spoke to the protesters with her 11-week-old daughter, Maile Pearl Bowlsbey, strapped to her chest. Other Democratic lawmakers also appeared with or spoke to the demonstrators, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and the Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez of New York and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

“We’re standing up for the real American values, the values that we as a nation welcome immigrants, we as a nation are stronger because of our diversity and we as a nation certainly do not rip families apart,” Ms. Duckworth said in a conversation with a group of protesters posted to Twitter.

“We are a better country than one that rips children away from their parents and locks them in cages,” Ms. Duckworth said in a statement to The New York Times on Friday. “I am so proud of the women who came to the Capitol to make their voices heard and stand up for American values, and I wanted to show my support for them.”

“I’m lucky to be the mom of two incredible little girls and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have them ripped from my arms and the pain and fear they would feel,” she added. “The Trump Administration needs to ensure the children they have separated from their families are treated fairly and they need to immediately reunite the families they’ve torn apart.”

The demonstrators were protesting the administration’s immigration policies, including its former policy of separating children from parents at the border and its current policy of detaining families together. President Trump caved to public pressure and ended the family separations less than two weeks ago, but about 2,000 children remain in federal custody.

Many of the demonstrators, including Ms. Gillibrand, also called for the abolishment of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“It has become a deportation force,” Ms. Gillibrand said on Twitter on Friday. “We need to separate immigration issues from criminal justice. We need to abolish ICE, start over and build something that actually works.”

The protest was organized by a coalition of groups including the organizers of the millions-strong Women’s March protest following President Trump’s inauguration. The other partners included the Center for Popular Democracy, MPower Change, CASA de Maryland, the Black Women’s Roundtable and the UndocuBlack Network.

The demonstrators, carrying signs that read “We will not be silent,” “No person is illegal” and “End all detention camps,” marched from Freedom Plaza, near the White House, to the Justice Department and then to the Hart building. Along the way, they passed the Trump International Hotel, chanting: “No ban! No wall! America is home to all!”

There were also chants of “we care” along the way, an apparent reference to the first lady, Melania Trump, who was photographed last week wearing a coat that read “I really don’t care. Do U?” after returning from a trip to visit detained children in Texas.

Many of the sit-in participants wrapped themselves in foil blankets like those distributed to detained immigrants at the border.

On Thursday afternoon, Ms. Jayapal said she was “proud to have been arrested” in protesting the administration’s “inhumane and cruel” policy.

“I’m going to continue to do everything I can to fight,” she said in a video posted to Twitter.

Additional rallies are planned around the country for Saturday.

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