About a dozen people gathered for a protest against Walmart in Dallas on Wednesday, accusing the giant retailer of profiting from the detention of children separated from their parents at the southern border.
A corporate spokesman countered that the protest is not what it seems.
The demonstration, organized by Making Change at Walmart, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000, North Texas Dream Team, Texas Organizing Project and Workers Defense Project, objects to "Walmart's likely role in the Child Immigrant Detention Center in Brownsville, Texas," according to a news release.
The detention center is a former Walmart store that was sold in 2016 to a buyer funded by a loan from a company that houses unaccompanied migrant children. The protesters said documents indicate that when Walmart sold the store, it likely knew the facility would be used to detain child immigrants.
The groups, which may stage protests at other detention sites in Brownsville and Tornillo, say that it's "highly unlikely" that Walmart didn't know the building would be used to house children separated from their families at the southern border. It asks the retailer to stop accepting payments for the building.
But Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company didn't know what the building would be used for.
A document pertaining to the sale signed by Walmart executive Matt G. Smith shows that the building was purchased with a $4.5 million loan from Southwest Key Programs, which operates immigrant children's shelters for the federal government. Protesters say Walmart knew or should have known the purpose for which its building would be used.
"We want Walmart to immediately stop accepting payments for the purchase of this building and to invest $4.5 million (purchase cost) towards reuniting detained children with their parents," said Amy Ritter, communications director for Making Change at Walmart.
She also said the groups want Walmart to denounce the Trump administration's policy and for its CEO to encourage President Donald Trump to rescind it immediately, something Trump said Wednesday he will do.
But Hargrove said that Making Change at Walmart, which highlights many criticisms of the company on its website and social media, is "shamelessly promoting its own agenda."
In a statement, Hargrove said that "any attempt" to suggest Walmart knew to what purpose the building would be put "is outrageous."
"This is a tragedy that children are being separated from their parents," he said.