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Protesters in Tucson, Phoenix, Nogales stand against federal immigration policy

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Protesters including the Rev. Alison Harrington, left, the Rev. Hannah Bonner, second from left, and the Rev. Matthew Clary, far right, march toward the DeConcini Port of Entry.

More than 1,000 peaceful protesters rallied Saturday in Tucson against family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border because of a federal government policy.

Sponsored by the Free the Children Coalition, the “Families Belong Together” protest brought a diverse crowd in solidarity against the “zero-tolerance” policy, which has separated thousands of children from their parents in the U.S.

The rally started shortly after 9 a.m. at Armory Park and was one of more than 700 nationwide protests Saturday calling attention to the issue of separated families.

Maria Eller, an organizer with NextGen Arizona, an organization helping adults get involved in various social issues, said it was good to see so many taking a stand.

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Protesters vote for “best sign” during a demonstration Saturday at Armory Park in downtown Tucson.

“I think this shows that the majority of Americans and our community here in Tucson does not agree with the immoral policies of the Trump administration,” she said. “We believe immigrants should have a safe and secure future here in the country when they’re coming here for opportunity.”

Temperatures climbed over 90 as about 1,200 people arrived displaying signs saying “Set them free” and “Abolish ICE.” Chants encouraging “power to the people” also rang out during the event.

The chants and signs carried a deeper significance for Aylin Burgos, who believes every voice matters in standing against the immigration policy.

“My mom is an immigrant, she came here legally to give us a better future,” Burgos said. “To see her struggle and all the things she had to surpass to get us to where we are, I feel like everyone deserves a chance to take advantage of what this country has to offer.”

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Marcel Roberts, 3, participates in a protest at Armory Park in downtown Tucson, Ariz. on June 30, 2018 against the separation of families at U.S.-Mexico border crossings.

Speakers took the stage with translators to include more participants at the rally. “We must fight so that it can be their parents who are the ones to comfort them,” a speaker said about children separated from parents.

The Southwest Key shelter in Tucson, 1601 N. Oracle Road, was the site of protests last week as first lady Melania Trump visited the Border Patrol in Tucson. At least 56 parents have been separated from about 60 children in Tucson since mid-May, according to Arizona Daily Star archives.

In Phoenix, around 800 people attended a protest at the Arizona State Capitol, the Arizona Republic reported, as more Arizonans protested across the state.

Nearly 200 people marched in Nogales, finishing at an intersection near the DeConcini Port of Entry. For more than an hour, protesters blocked lanes going into Mexico but roadways leading into Arizona were open, the Arizona Republic reported.

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Nogales protesters block southbound lanes at the DeConcini Port of Entry at the end of a Families Belong Together march.

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A dissenter engages in a verbal exchange with protesters near the port of entry during the Families Belong Together protest and march on June 30, 2018, in Nogales, Ariz. Several hundred protesters marched through downtown Nogales blocking a major intersection and the southbound lanes at the DeConcini Port of Entry for a time.

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Pedestrians observe through the fence as protesters block southbound lanes at the DeConcini Port of Entry during the Families Belong Together protest and march on June 30, 2018, in Nogales, Ariz. Several hundred protesters marched through downtown Nogales blocking a major intersection and the southbound lanes at the DeConcini Port of Entry for a time.

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Protesters block the intersection of Crawford Street and Grande Avenue during the Families Belong Together protest and march on June 30, 2018, in Nogales, Ariz. Several hundred protesters marched through downtown Nogales blocking a major intersection and the southbound lanes at the DeConcini Port of Entry for a time.

Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or sdavis@tucson.com On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1