Over 2,000 people take part in last Saturday’s Families Belong Together rally in front of Portland City Hall. Hundreds of children are still separated from their parents; mothers and fathers in many cases have no idea where their kids are or when they will see them again. Staff file photo by Brianna Soukup

The protests last weekend that filled the streets near Portland City Hall and around the State House in Augusta – and at over 600 locations around the country – came in response to the separation of families at the border by the Trump administration.

The rallies – which also took place in Brunswick, Farmington, Bangor and Bar Harbor – were held after President Trump signed an executive order ending the practice, and after a federal judge ordered the families to be reunited no later than July 26.

But that doesn’t mean the protests came too late.

Two weeks after President Trump signed the executive order, hundreds of children remain separated from their parents, held in detention centers spread across the country. Their parents are held in their own centers, kept far away from their children. The federal government does not seem to have a good plan to reunite the families, nor is it taking any steps to connect them at least over the phone.

According to ProPublica, parents are kept in facilities where the phones barely work, and where facility operators make it difficult for lawyers and advocates to reach the detained immigrants. When they are allowed to communicate, the weight of what they are experiencing is clear.

“I just want to tell my son I love him,” said a mother from El Salvador who had been in a detention center for three weeks without any contact with her child.

“Don’t worry,” a father wrote in a note he hoped would find its way to his son, “because I am with you. I want to ask you to eat well, and if you eat well, then I will be happy.”

These families are now stuck in a cruel limbo with no clear rules, and no assurances it will end soon, although the federal government has the power and resources to halt this tragedy in a moment if it wanted to.

The parents in many cases have not been told where their kids are or when they will see them again. They are told that agreeing to deportation presents the best chance for reunification, but some immigrants have been deported without their kids. One immigrant was released while her asylum application is adjudicated, but was then told that her three children would remain in detention until the process was over.

So keep marching. March until all the families are reunited. March until the last detention center is closed. March until people are held accountable for their inhumane actions.

March until government knows it can never do this again.