Immigration protests planned across East Texas

TYLER (KYTX) - As immigrant children continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in record numbers, protests are being planned across the country -- and here in East Texas.

It's part of a growing backlash against the federal government's decision to house migrant children detained at the border.

The movement has been dubbed National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty and Border Surge, and it's gaining support across the country.

But while some are saying the government needs to work harder to secure our borders, others argue that we should instead be focusing on helping these kids.

Protests have been going on for weeks in some areas, but as the president scrambles to cope with the surge of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American countries, the debate continues to heat up.

"What we're having right now isn't the normal people coming over for a better life -- this is way beyond that," protest organizer Tammy Blair said. "They're coming from a long ways off, and we have to stop it. For our childrens' sake, for our own health, for our safety."

Blair is part of a group of people who will be protesting against the immigration surge Saturday in Tyler. She says Texas needs to step up and take action.

"This is a significant problem. We can't afford this," she said. "Our schools are not prepared to bring these children in, our healthcare facilities can not take all of this, our law enforcement can't handle such a massive influx."

But immigration attorney Jose Sanchez says this isn't just an economic issue. He says the tens of thousands of children fleeing poverty-stricken and gang-infested countries is a humanitarian crisis.

He agrees the volume of children coming into the U.S. is a huge problem, but says protesters hoping to send them back to their countries just don't get it.

"I think it's difficult for your typical American to really relate to what these kids are coming from," Sanchez said. "They can't put themselves in that situation, because even the worst situation here financially, economically, is not comparable to what these kids are going through in their countries."

Blair says she's not against people immigrating to the U.S. -- she just wants to see it done legally.

"The demonstration we're holding is not against people who really want a better life -- that's not what it's about," she said. "We're demonstrating for the rule of law."

Some are suggesting that lawmakers consider changing the 2008 anti-trafficking law that requires border patrol to place most of these children under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services -- which then finds them safe housing.

But so far, Congress hasn't been able to reach a decision.

Rallies are happening Saturday at noon outside the On the Border restaurant in Tyler, and at 9 a.m. at the overpass on I-20 and FM 2087 in Gregg County.


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