MILWAUKEE -- Cesar Acosta, a 9-year-old boy who fled gang violence in Honduras, said Thursday in Milwaukee that he was kept in a cage after U.S. authorities took him from his mother on the southern border.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) used the boy's story during a news conference to criticize the Trump administration's policy of separating families crossing the border. LULAC staff say they are representing Cesar's family, which is staying in Waukegan, Illinois, as it seeks asylum.
Speaking through a LULAC translator, the young boy said immigration officials took him to a place called "the dogs."
"Those are cages only for dogs," he said. "They would treat us very bad."
LULAC's immigration director told reporters that Cesar's mother fled Honduras when a gang murdered her brother-in-law in front of her husband.
"I ask God to touch Donald Trump's heart, and he should look and see all the pain that he's causing -- more than anything, to the children," said the boy's mother, Ingrid.
LULAC says it has put up two billboards in Milwaukee opposing the administration's policy, which has since been rescinded.
A federal judge has forced the administration to reunite families. The Trump administration has not said how many children remain separated from their parents.
"There is an American crisis happening right now in front of us," said Eileen Figueroa, LULAC's Wisconsin state director.
Wearing a Make America Great Again hat, Scott Johansson watched the news conference in silent protest.
"We are a nation of citizens, not immigrants. That's how it should be," Johansson, of Milwaukee, told reporters.
Johansson said he has sympathy for refugees, but supported the Trump administration's work. He said the issue had been "solved" and said he understood that reuniting families would take time.
"Going across the border and through Texas, not going through customs or anything -- it puts a strain on our taxpayers. It puts a strain on everybody," Johansson said.
A federal judge has directed the administration to reunite all of the separated families by July 26.