With American flags and homemade signs in hand, about a dozen protesters were met by a constant chorus of honking horns Friday on an Interstate 26 overpass.
Their grievances were with the state and federal governments' handling of immigration and border control.
Late Friday morning, much of the protesters' energy was aimed at rumors that undocumented children would be housed in South Carolina and other non-border states. They said they'd be back again Saturday - same time, same place.
"We need to close our borders and protect the United States citizens first," said Deborah Ross, a local coordinator for a nationwide group called Overpasses for America that strives to hold the government accountable to the Constitution. "We have lost all touch with America. Laws are not being enforced. ... We the people pay the taxes, and we don't want to pay for illegal immigration."
The North Charleston resident said she's heard enough to be "outraged" by allegations of undocumented minors being bused into non-border states.
"Just send them back where they came," said Ross, who waved her "Protect US citizens, deport all illegals" sign at the vehicles zooming below. "They'll get fed, I'm sure they're getting clothes, they're getting medical treatment, that's all well and good if we want to spend money on humane things. But they go back. They broke the law."
The scene was one of hundreds of demonstrations planned for the weekend on overpasses and at state capitol buildings and Mexican consulates throughout the country. The Charleston protest went ahead as planned after Gov. Nikki Haley received confirmation from the Department of Homeland Security Wednesday that no undocumented minors are being sent to South Carolina.
Protests also were planned for Friday and Saturday in Columbia, Florence, Myrtle Beach and Greenville.
Peggy Kandies of North Charleston said she took part in the demonstration to represent victims of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants. In 2010, she was attacked by a man who had come to the U.S. illegally, she said, and she's been trying to educate people ever since.
"We've got a serious problem across this country," she said. "It's not just me, but I'm the only victim who came forward in the state of South Carolina."
Michael Greenstreet of Ladson said he and others on the overpass were fed up with the state and federal governments' inaction concerning current immigration and border control laws.
"No one's taking any serious action to enforce the laws that are already in the books," said the Vietnam veteran, who held a large American flag over the highway.
Greenstreet said the undocumented children issue is not being handled like it should.
"If we allow the children to stay in America, about a year after, their parents and brothers and sisters are coming," he said. "America can help them best if they stay home. The borders have to be secure before there can be dialogue."
Unaccompanied children from Central America have been arriving at the border by the thousands, with 90,000 expected by the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30. They flee violence but also are drawn by rumors that once here, they can stay.
President Barack Obama has requested $3.7 billion to help address the situation at the border. Republicans have been pushing to significantly pare down that request. Meanwhile, as shelters at border cities fill up, children reportedly have been taken to several non-border states, including Massachusetts, Florida and Virginia, to the surprise of local residents.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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