On Saturday, a 12-year-old girl named Leah gave a speech at the Families Belong Together march in Washington, D.C., about the constant fear she lives in as a daughter of immigrants. Leah, who frequently tweets about her immigration reform activism, also condemned the family separations at the border and the cages detained children are living in.
"My name is Leah. I am 12 years old and from Miami, Florida. I am the the proud daughter of a domestic worker [who] loves me very much," Leah told the crowd. "My mom's job is very important. Unlike our government, she takes care of children as a nanny and makes sure they are healthy and safe."
On her notes for the days speech, Leah wrote "breath" before her next line: "Our government instead harms children and deports parents every day."
"I am here today because the government is separating and detaining refugee parents at the border who are looking for safety. Our government also continues to separate U.S. citizen children like me from their parents every day. This is evil! It needs to stop!" Leah told a raptured audience at Saturday's march. "It makes me sad to know that children can't be with their parents. I don't understand why they're being so mean to us children. Don't they know how much we love our family? Don't they have a family too? Why don't they care about us children?"
Leah then paused to catch her breath.
Someone yelled to Leah from the audience, "I love you!" Leah responded, "I love you more." Then she wiped away tears.
She continued, saying it's "unfair" that lawmakers get to go home to their families while children remain in detention centers.
"Why do they hate us like this? It is unfair that they get to spend time with their families today while there are children in detention center and in cages all alone, missing their parents, who are thrown in jail," Leah said.
Brief chanting of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" broke out while Leah started to cry.
"I live with the constant fear of losing my mom to deportation. My mom is strong, beautiful, and brave. She is also a person who taught me how to speak up when I see things that aren't fair."
Leah also talked about how it feels as a young person constantly worried about a parents' immigration status. "ICE wants to take away my mom from me. I don't like to live with this fear. It's scary. I can't sleep, I can't study, I am stressed," she told the crowd.
After her speech, Leah posted another video on Twitter, thanking the people who supported her while writing the speech and those who watched. "I just got done finishing my speech in front of many people, and I want to thank you for the love and support that you have given me," she said.
Leah said she's hopeful after today's action. "Together we will change this country to become a better one, to reunite families with peace and love," she said to the phone camera.
Saturday was filled with moving speeches like Leah's. Actress and producer America Ferrera also gave a speech at the Washington, D.C. march. Ferrera asked the crowd to imagine themselves in the families torn apart by the current administration. "What makes humans remarkable is our capacity to imagine," Ferrera said. "We have an imagination — let's use it."
At the Atlanta sister march, Rep. John Lewis told the crowd to "keep marching" for change. Lewis's name has been synonymous with protest for civil rights since his time with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. "There is no such thing as an illegal human being. We are all humans," Lewis told the Atlanta crowd.