Although President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to end the separations after enormous political pressure and public outrage, protesters gathered in front of the Civic Center in downtown to march to the local office of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Holding banners and signs that read "Families belong together," "Kids need their parents," "Breaking families is cruel child abuse" and "America stop inflicting trauma on innocent children," they shouted slogans against the Trump administration's immigration policy.
"Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants are welcome here," the crowd chanted repeatedly.
Many children took part in the nearly 5,000-strong rally with their parents.
The protest, organized by "Families Belong Together," called on the Trump administration to end the practice of immigrant family detention and separating children from their parents, which has sent shock waves across the country.
"We are brokenhearted, we are ashamed, we are furious," Congressman Scott Peters said.
Peters helped introduce the Keep Families Together Act, which prohibits Department of Homeland Security officials from separating children from their parents, except in extraordinary circumstances, like trafficking indicators or other concerns of risk to the child.
"We are collectively saying no to Trump's zero-tolerance policy," Congresswoman Susan Davis said. "Because it's all about intolerance and we do not agree."
Thirteen-year-old twins Yarely and Aracely Duarte told the crowd their parents had been detained last year, and they were forced to live without parents for months.
"Kids should not be separated from their families and we are all here together in solidarity so that people understand that this is not correct," Aracely Duarte said.
The "zero tolerance" policy has resulted in the separation of at least 2,300 children from their immigrant parents caught illegally crossing the border.
Hundreds more "Families Belong Together" protests are going to be held across the country next Saturday.