Crowd gathers at LaGuardia Airport to support children believed to be separated from families

Dozens gathered Wednesday night at LaGuardia Airport to support separated immigrant children.

Activists urged supporters via social media to come witness the arrival of children, whom they believed had been separated from their families, who were landing in New York. It was not immediately clear whether those children had been separated from their families.

Crowds gathered at the airport with signs in Spanish reading: “We love you” and “We are with you.” CNN crews saw supporters lining the terminal, holding signs and showing messages of support. They sang “We Shall Overcome” and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” in the terminal.

For hours, the crowds waited for potentially more flights with separated children.

“We’re here to show solidarity and to show love to the kids who are being separated from their families,” said Antonio Alarcón, an immigration youth organizer. “We’re here to show them that we love them and that we care about them — that they’re not alone.”

Activists said they learned from a passenger on a flight from Texas to New York that there were about seven young immigrants whom she believed were being transported. They spread the word through social media and encouraged supporters to come to the airport Wednesday.

“We are here in LaGuardia because many of these young immigrants who have been criminalized and separated from their families were put on flights and sent to other parts of the country, including here in New York,” said Cristina Jimenez, co-founder and executive director of United We Dream.

Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action said what she saw at the airport Wednesday was “abhorrent” and a “wake-up call.”

“I saw four little children being walked by a transport guardian into a van, who had their belongings in a plastic bag, who looked petrified. This is the moment when everyone in this country has to recognize that what is happening right now to immigrant families, children, parents.”

She said the youngest child being transported from the airport appeared to be about four or five years old.

Several US airlines have asked the government not to fly separated children on their planes.

Amid growing furor over the family separations, President Donald Trump reversed course and signed an executive order to keep parents and kids together on Wednesday. But the order has not changed anything in terms of putting families that have already been separated back together, a government official confirmed Wednesday.