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Hundreds gather in Minneapolis to protest federal immigration policy

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Angelica Klebsch
Angelica Klebsch of Mounds View, Minn., said she organized a rally in Minneapolis on Sunday, June 17, 2018, to remind potential congressional candidates about the importance of keeping families together, even if their immigration status is in question.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

Hundreds of people gathered in Minneapolis for a pair of rallies on Sunday to protest the treatment of immigrants at the U.S. border — in particular the federal policy that is leading to children being separated from their parents.

On Sunday morning, nearly 100 people rallied outside Clara Barton Open School in Minneapolis, ahead of a DFL convention to endorse a candidate for the 5th District congressional seat.

Angelica Klebsch of Mounds View, Minn., called the rally. She said she wanted to remind potential congressional candidates about the importance of keeping families together, even if their immigration status is in question.

Federal authorities have been separating parents from children when families have been stopped by immigration officials while crossing the US-Mexico border.

"I think that we're seeing a lot of movements by the (Trump) administration that have been shocking to a lot of people, and I don't think that we all realized just how far these things would go," she said. "And I know that there's been a lot of other times in history where people have stood by and not known what to do. And this is one of those moments, and we feel like it defines our generation; we're not going to stand by."

DFL congressional candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Ilhan Omar and Patricia Torres Ray also addressed the rally, as did outgoing U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison.

The second rally drew several hundred people on Sunday afternoon. It started outside the state Republican Party offices on East Franklin Avenue; the protesters then marched two miles to DFL U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's office, singing and chanting slogans along the way.

The protest at both offices was meant to be a statement that both Republicans and Democrats need to do more to address the issue. Brad Sigal, one of the organizers of the march, says both parties share the responsibility.

"The Democrats haven't been stellar on this, just like the Republicans haven't. So we're demanding of all the politicians that they stand up for full rights — human rights and legalization and full equality for immigrants," he said.

The march was organized by the Minnesota Immigrant Rights Action Committee, and linked to the Father's Day holiday. Organizers said they're planning more protests and rallies.