The border came to Philadelphia on Friday, with all its conflict and complication.

About 150 chanting demonstrators massed at noon in Center City, part of a national "Day of Action" to demand that the Trump administration stop separating parents and children who try to enter the United States at the southwest border.

Protesters devoted an hour to songs, speeches, and sign-waving, then quietly placed baby rattles, stuffed dogs, and other children's toys at the front door of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices at Eighth and Cherry Streets.

"The children should be with their families playing with toys. They shouldn't be kidnapped by the U.S. government," said Melissa Byrne, an organizer with UltraViolet, a women's advocacy group.

To honor and recognize children who have been taken from their parents, people blew soap bubbles, which floated away on the breeze.

Janet Ries Stern, left, Bruce Pollack-Johnson, center, and David Heitler-Klevans, right, perform with Voices Rising Philly, at a protest that was art of a "national day of action" against the Trump administration's separation of migrant children and parents. The protest took place outside the offices of ICE, at 8th and Cherry Streets, in Philadelphia.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Janet Ries Stern, left, Bruce Pollack-Johnson, center, and David Heitler-Klevans, right, perform with Voices Rising Philly, at a protest that was art of a "national day of action" against the Trump administration's separation of migrant children and parents. The protest took place outside the offices of ICE, at 8th and Cherry Streets, in Philadelphia.

"Families belong together," they chanted.

One man yelled from a passing truck, "Trump is still your president!"

A woman raised her middle finger in response.

Many of the families seeking to enter the U.S. are fleeing drug violence and gangs in Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. Some claim asylum, a legal means of seeking entry, but are prosecuted under the administration's "zero tolerance" policy.

"A mother trying to save her life and those of her kids is not a criminal — she's a hero," Elizabeth Yaeger, a lawyer for the immigrant support group HIAS Pennsylvania, told the crowd.

Amid the world's worst refugee crisis since World War II — an estimated 22.5 million people have been driven from their homes by conflict and persecution — parents and their children are "simply asking to be shown a little bit of mercy," she said.

People chanted, "Quit kidnapping kids." One man held up a sign that simply read, "No!"

At one point, police had to close off a lane on Eighth, and demonstrators overflowed from the sidewalk.

Diana Hunt participates in a national "day of action" to protest the Trump administration's separation of migrant children and parents.
JESSICA GRIFFIN / Staff Photographer
Diana Hunt participates in a national "day of action" to protest the Trump administration's separation of migrant children and parents.

Protests were scheduled in cities across the country, including New York, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco. Demonstrations are planned in Allentown and Reading on Saturday.

Immigration advocates say the administration is tearing apart families and  hurting children as a means to intimidate people from coming to America.

"We have to break up families," the president said, because of "bad laws that the Democrats gave us."

FactCheck.org and other fact-determining organizations say there is no such law. The separation of families is caused by the president's decision that all immigrants who cross the border without proper documents be prosecuted.

That means parents are placed in detention centers, and their children are moved to the supervision of the Health and Human Services Department, to be housed in foster care or juvenile facilities. Other children may be placed with adult relatives in the U.S.

"If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It's that simple," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March. "If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don't like that, then don't smuggle children over our border."