Hundreds of people protested the separation of immigrant families at a rally Sunday afternoon at Kansas City's Mill Creek Park.
"This is my very, very first rally ever," Fabiola Cruz told the crowd.
Cruz was among dozens who raised their hands indicating they were protesting for the first time. She came to the front after organizers from the immigrant advocacy group Cosecha KC invited protesters to share their personal stories. Cruz — who came to the U.S. from Tijuana, Mexico, when she was 2 years old — said she felt compelled to speak up.
"My sister served as a Marine and she's not even able to have her husband here," Cruz told the crowd.
Cruz and her sister are citizens now, but she said her brother-in-law was deported in January to Mexico.
"They have a baby. This family separation policy is hurting our families. Not just my sister's family, everybody's family," Cruz said.
Facing widespread criticism, President Trump signed an executive order last week to end the practice of separating families at U.S. borders and instead detain parents and children together indefinitely.
But organizers with Cosecha KC, the KS/MO DREAM Alliance and Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation pushed ahead with rallies planned for the weekend to call attention to the "border crisis," and put pressure on the Trump administration to keep families out of detention altogether.
"The proposed family detention centers for parents and children are not a solution. We will not stand by and let this administration commit these crimes," said Cosecha KC leader Raiza Guevara in a written statement.
Teresa Calhoun was another first-time protester at Sunday's rally. Calhoun came to the U.S. from Tabasco, Mexico. With her 7-month-old daughter Araza on her hip, she said she couldn't even imagine what parents have been going through at the border.
Even with Trump's order, she and others at the rally said they were concerned over how the thousands of children already separated from their parents will be reunited with them.
"America, it's free," Calhoun said. "I want these practices to stop."