Over 500 women were arrested in Washington, DC on Thursday during a protest against the United States’ government’s zero-intolerance immigration policy, Reuters reported. First Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, was also among those who were arrested.
The demonstrators sat on the Hart Senate Office Building’s marbled floors, wrapped themselves in metallic silver blankets similar to those given to the migrant children who have been separated fromt heir families.
The US Capitol Police arrested 575 women and charged them for unlawfully demonstrating in the Senate office atrium, said police spokesperson Eva Malecki. Jayapal was issued a $50 (Rs 3,429) fine for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding”.
Jayapal said she was asked to speak at a demonstration by women at the Hart Senate Office Building during a protest against “the inhumane and cruel zero-tolerance policy” of US President Donald Trump, the separation of families, and imprisonment of asylum seekers.
“I decided that I, too, would sit down with them and submit to arrest,” Jayapal said, according to The Seattle Times. “We chanted and sang and talked about the need to reunite these families and to end the president’s zero-tolerance policy.”
Jayapal said she would join other protestors for a demonstration on Saturday. “I’m proud to have been arrested with them to put myself in the camp of people who believe that the United States of America is better,” she said in a video posted on Twitter.
Jayapal was the first member of Congress to visit a federal prison where immigrant parents were separated from their children.
The Trump administration has faced severe criticism since Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May announced a “zero tolerance” policy that allows authorities to file criminal charges against undocumented immigrants. On June 18, investigative news website ProPublica published an audio recording of immigrant children from Central America crying inconsolably for their parents at a detention centre on the US-Mexico border.
On Tuesday, as many as seventeen states in the US sued the Trump administration in an effort to force officials to reunite migrant families separated at the Mexico border.