Congresswoman Veronica Escobar joined teachers, lawmakers and activist groups on a day-long call for action on the U.S. government to end the criminalization and detention of immigrant children and their families on Sunday in El Paso’s San Jacinto Plaza.

Teachers and groups from across the United States and Mexico spoke out at Teacher’s Against Child Detention’s Teach-In For Freedom. 

Educational leaders and other political figures joined including John King, Secretary of Education during the Obama Adminstrion and Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). 

“Here in El Paso this was the testing fround for the Trump Administration’s family separation policy,” Escobar said during her speech.

Teachers and educators from more than 25 states across the U.S. came to speak out in the Sun City. 

“We’re calling an emergency we’re calling to make sure people are aware of what’s going on and that’s why its a teach in and not just a protest,” Nidia Carranza, a Chicago Pre-K teacher said. 

Many educators included bilingual teachers and those who say it is their job to speak up for some of their students who come from undocumented families.

“I think it’s important that as Latino educators that we’re in this space and contributing to the call to action and being able to communicate our student’s stories as well,” Chicago teacher Roxana Gonzalez said. 

With El Paso recently in the national spotlight, AFT President Weingarten said the Borderland was a crucial location for Sunday’s call for action.

“El Paso was picked because It’s right on the border, because the Tornillo camp was right here, Weingarten said. “In the last few days, the President, for reasons I don’t understand and certainly not based upon facts, has put El Paso which is a safe, wonderful and diverse city in the crosshairs.”

The Tornillo facility which opened in June 2018 once detained more than 6,000 migrant children. It has since been closed after the last child left the facility in January. 

However Weingarten says this is still an issue, saying there are more than 11,000 children detained accross the country.

“It kind of became something that was normalized and we cant continue to normalize situations like this where kids are being put through detention and that trauma everyday, people need to continue to be outraged by this and demand action,” Gonzalez said.