Missouri Part of 2-Day Immigration Reform Protest

By CNN News Wire

Published 07/19 2014 04:30PM

Updated 07/19 2014 04:33PM

(CNN)-- Amid the surge of unaccompanied immigrant children illegally crossing into the U.S. along the southern border, some Americans are venting their anger in the streets on Friday and Saturday, calling it an "alien invasion" of the U.S. and warning of a national security and "health and safety concern."

"It is a sad state of affairs for those kids," one protester said. "But it's not our job to take care of them."

Throngs of Americans are participating in a so-called "National Day of Protesting Against Immigration Reform, Amnesty & Border Surge."  An announcement lists events in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia over the two days.

On Friday in Kansas City, Missouri, protesters held aloft signs that read: "Stop Illegal Alien Invasion" and "Strengthen our Borders."

"They need to clean our country up and get back to the original version of what our country was," one man told a KMBC reporter. Elsewhere in the city, a woman said to a KCTV reporter: "We cannot be…babysitters of the world."

In Birmingham, Alabama, protesters decried "amnesty," as one of them warned about the dangers of allowing illegal immigrants into the U.S.

"Other countries seem to be able to close their borders, but we aren't," she told a WBMA reporter. "It's a national security [problem] and it's also a health and safety concern as well."

And in Rockwall, Texas – a Dallas suburb – the woman who said it's not America's job to care for the unaccompanied minors also told the WFAA reporter: "They need to be sent back to the countries they came from."

In a written announcement, organizers claimed the protests would amount to "the largest coordinated protest against all forms of amnesty, comprehensive immigration reform, and the government's failure to enforce immigration laws and secure our borders." There is no way to confirm the size and breadth of the protests.  While some protests will likely be large gatherings, many observed rallies appeared to have only a handful of protesters.  On its Facebook page, about 4,000 said they would be "going."

All of this amid the ongoing political debate over the humanitarian crisis. Most of the close to 60,000 children who've come to the U.S. since the beginning of this year are from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.  Many have fled violence, including rape, gang activity and drug wars.  The U.S. government has undertaken highly controversial efforts to place them in holding facilities across the country.

President Barack Obama seeks to reduce a backlog of cases overwhelming the immigration system by speeding up hearings to determine who stays and who goes.  He has asked Congress for $3.7 billion - an amount Republicans have blasted as excessive – in emergency funds to help deal with the crisis.

On Friday, the White House announced that Obama will meet with the leaders of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador next week to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, some focused on the plight of the children. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, said he sympathized with the nightmarish situations from which they fled and the lives they could have in the United States.

"Of any parent who would send their 7-, 8-, 10-year-old, how desperate they must be, and how dangerous it must be in terms of cartels and gang warfare, that they're sending their kids ahead to try to make a new life and try to get out of harm's way in our great country," Polis said in a Friday interview with WPTV.

When asked if he'd like to see some of the children in his district, Polis said: "I can tell you they are good kids.  They look like regular schoolkids - wanting to know what comes next, curious, excited about the adventure of it all. But at the same time you can imagine how hard it must be to be apart from your family."

Not everyone is buying that.

"Everybody's saying that they're all children. No, they're not," a woman protester told a KNXV reporter in Phoenix.

"Plus we don't know how many terrorists are coming over that border right now, either.  As a result, if we don't take action and close those borders, we are going to have many more incidents. Plus, the cost for supporting all these people."

–CNN's Tom Cohen and Matthew Hoye contributed

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