Activist and community leaders rallied in downtown Los Angeles on Monday to denounce President Barack Obama’s request to Congress last week to increase border security and expedite immigration processing.
Immigration rights groups and community leaders stood in front of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services building to speak out against what they called the "fast track" approach to solve the border crisis.
"We really felt that he was going to be more sympathetic to the children," said Esther Portillo, an organizer for Human Rights Alliance for Child Refugees and Families.
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In a letter to Congress last week, the president asked to increase penalties to criminals caught smuggling immigrants, and the ability to quickly process and deport unaccompanied immigrant children. The request were estimated to cost $2 billion.
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The activists asked that the fund intended to increase border security be used to provide psychological services for the children.
Activists urged for the end of deportations and a humanitarian approach to handling some 50,000 child immigrants who have been caught trying to enter the U.S. since October. Most of them arrived from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
"They’ve gone through a long journey," Portillo said. "They are like heros."
With the government transfering the children to other Border Patrol facilities across the nation, including Southern California, residents have been outraged.
In Murrieta last week, anti-immigration protesters blocked a bus carrying families of undocumented immigrants from reaching a Border Patrol facility for processing. The bus was rerouted to another facility in San Diego County.
"We have a crisis, which has hit such a pitch in this nation, that it’s fueled by hatred and xenophobia," Los Angeles City Councilman Gilbert Cedillo said.