Pressure has been growing on the Scottish Executive over the Dungavel detention centre.
The SNP called for an end to the detention of children at Dungavel
First Minister Jack McConnell and members of his cabinet faced a silent vigil outside Bute House in Edinburgh during their weekly meeting.
The protesters included church leaders and actors such as Peter Mullan, as well as refugees and former asylum seekers.
The protest was designed to keep up the pressure on Mr McConnell to make a statement on the centre at Dungavel in South Lanarkshire and, more specifically, the detention of families with children.
Devolution has created a conflict as immigration policy is reserved to Westminster while education is the remit of the Scottish Executive.
So far, the first minister has declined to make any comment, other than repeating that asylum is the responsibility of the Home Office.
However, Mr McConnell was due to come under further pressure on Thursday because the Scottish National Party has made Dungavel the subject for its debate in the Scottish Parliament.
SNP leader John Swinney will call on Mr McConnell to break his silence on the issue.
The SNP's motion to be debated on Thursday invites the parliament to "call
for an end to the detention of children" at Dungavel.
Mr Swinney said: "I hope that MSPs of all parties will feel able
to support this clear, unambiguous statement of principle.
"I particularly hope that Jack McConnell will recognise that it is time to
break his silence.
"To continue to pretend that he does not have an obligation to speak out is
an untenable position and I sincerely hope he will speak out and vote in favour
of the motion."