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Protesters occupy US Senate building, slam Trump immigration policy

(Reuters) – Hundreds of protesters have occupied a US Senate office building and chanted slogans against President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on immigration.

During the demonstration on Thursday, the activists, mostly women dressed in white, refused police orders to leave and lined up to be arrested, Reuters reported.

The protesters occupied the Hart Senate Office Building’s marbled floors and wrapped themselves in metallic silver blankets, which appeared to be a reference to those given to children of undocumented migrants sleeping on thin mattresses on the floors of detention centers.

“Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here,” the protesters chanted.

But Capitol Police officers told the protesters, “This is your final warning.”

“If you don’t want to be arrested you need to leave,” they added.

Police arrested several protesters and confiscated their blankets and signs.

A large number of Senate staff filled the upper mezzanine floors, and watched the crowd below. Democratic senators Mazie Hirono, Kirsten Gillibrand, Jeff Merkley and Pramila Jayapal came down and talked to the protesters. These senators have been critical of Trump’s immigration policies.

Before arriving at Capitol Hill, the demonstrators staged a rally at Pennsylvania Avenue, where they chanted “Shame! Shame! Shame!” at the Trump International Hotel.

The Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy towards illegal immigration has led to family separations at the US border with Mexico.

Facing overwhelming bipartisan backlash, the US president signed an executive order last Wednesday to halt the separations.

The Republican president has vowed to crack down on immigration but has failed to get his complete agenda through so far.

More than 2,000 separated children are currently in the US government’s custody, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which claims that it is aware of their locations and is making an effort to reunite them with their families.

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