Child separation policy faces protests in Pinellas

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Several protests were held in Pinellas County because of the policy that separates children from their families at the Mexican border.

"We have lost our empathy as a country," said Donna Bradley, the leader of Indivisible Pasco. "We have lost our morality."

Bradley is one of about 60 who stood at SR-580 and McMullen Booth Rd. as images from inside child holding cells at the border circulated. Audio from inside a detention center was also released Monday afternoon by the website ProPublica.

Protestors say President Trump is holding the kids hostage to politics, after he said it was Congress that had the power to end the practice of separating children from parents seeking asylum. 

Responding to criticism from religious groups, Attorney General Sessions cited a biblical quote that commands God's servants to obey the laws of the government, and said it was US law the administration is enforcing.

He also said the separation of families would be short-term. 

"At the point children are punished for the sake of an issue on whether we are going to going to fix an immigration system as broken," said protester Jessica Attardo. "Using children as pawns is never acceptable."

The protest at Williams Park in downtown St. Petersburg was bigger, with several hundred gathering.

"We will not step down or stand down," said school board chair Rene Flowers. "For you to be here today shows you stand for righteousness, you stand for decency, you have integrity, which is more than I can say for the man who is supposed to be the leader of this free country."

66 percent of those polled by Quinnipiac said they were against the policy, while 27 percent said they supported it.

Protestors say this is now the number one issue in America, and pledge to make it that way in November too.

"The entire House of Representatives is up for election," said Attardo. "Each one of them can lose their job if they are not here to protect the children who have come here seeking our help."

On Tuesday, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) says he is visiting a child holding center in Homestead, where roughly 1,000 children are held.