Hundreds of people filled the streets of the East Village, demanding President Donald Trump close the detention centers holding migrant families and children.
One of several #ClosetheCamps rallies around the country Tuesday to bring awareness to detention centers. The protest in Manhattan focused on conditions that migrants have been forced to live in. Some protesters argued U.S. policies bare some of the blame for the rise in immigration to the southern border.
"The corporations of this country have exploited the people, the land, the governments, of Central America and Latin America in general, thoroughly, for over a hundred years," activist Tom Gallagher said at the rally. "We have the revenues to do something to make life more worth living in those countries that are the source of immigration."
The demonstrations followed a new report and photos by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general that revealed squalid conditions in the detention centers, including serious overcrowding and children having little to no access to showers and clean clothes.
"I have seen them take elementary school children in handcuffs! I have seen them put them on a bus with cages. And as those children passed, we screamed out to them that they are not alone!" Jess Morales Rocketto, of advocacy group Domestic Workers Alliance, said at the protests.
The protests came as the Trump Administration dealt with a new controversy. According to the news organization ProPublica, current and former border patrol agents have been posting offensive messages to a secret Facebook group, mocking dead migrant children and insulting Hispanic politicians like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
"The Department of Homeland Security needs to immediately identify every single individual associated with this Facebook group, smoke them out of their holes, and remove them from that agency," Nydia Velazquez, a Democrat who represents the 7th Congressional District, which covers parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, said at the rally.
Customs and Border Protection says it is investigating the posts. But lawmakers and advocates say the messages echo the tone that Trump has set.
"We have a president of the United States of America who calls those who are seeking asylum in this country individuals who are part of an infestation. When you use that type of dehumanizing language, it leads to dehumanizing behavior," said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Democrat who represents the 8th Congressional District, which covers parts of Brooklyn and Queens.
Last week, Congress approved legislation to get billions of dollars in emergency aid to the border. But for some Democrats and advocates, it will take new leadership at the White House for conditions at the border to improve.