Starting around 10 a.m. Monday, about 50 people lined a part of Washington Street in downtown Gainesville to protest the treatment of illegal immigrants at the U.S-Mexico border.
The group congregated across the street from Congressman Doug Collins' Gainesville office, specifically demanding a response to the separation of families at the border. President Trump signed an executive order stopping the policy on June 20, although not all families have been reunited, according to national media reports.
Many of those in attendance held signs reading "Keep families together." Others wore construction paper crowns in the likeness of the Statue of Liberty. Still others called for an end to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, echoing a call started by some Democrats in national office.
Among those addressing the group was Josh McCall, the Democratic challenger for the Ninth District Congressional post.
He accused Collins and other Republicans of trying to scare Americans by making minority groups "an enemy."
"They also tell us that our enemies are women and children trying to cross the border to liberty," McCall said through a megaphone.
Once McCall finished his rallying cry, organizers led the group inside to confront Collins' staff members.
Collins was not in the office at the time, according to his staff. He was in Dahlonega meeting with the officials from the U.S. Forest Service, the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Department and the Georgia State Patrol to address the impact of the Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering, which is taking place in the Nimblewill Gap area.
Collins issued the following statement after hearing of the demonstration outside the Gainesville office:
“I’m always happy to hear from Northeast Georgians and appreciate their engagement on all issues, including immigration. I’ve voted to build and fund the president’s border wall and to keep families safe and unified at the border, and I will continue to work in Congress and with the Trump Administration to improve our broken immigration system. As we continue that work, I’m thankful for the chance to listen to perspective from across Georgia’s Ninth District.”
Monday's protest in Gainesville piggy-backed on similar demonstrations held across the country on Saturday.