President Donald J. Trump’s ban on migrants and Muslim refugees sparked nationwide protests across America, a country whose social fabric was shaped by immigration more than anything else, and tens of thousands of Americans flocked into airports and streets to denounce the decision.
The refugee ban offered a new ground for political battle for Mr. Trump’s critics and minority groups who feel on the edge after a series of executive orders, which came with a frenetic pace in the president’s first week at the Oval Office. Americans of all walks of life saw in migrant ban an element that appears at odds with the central pillar of the United States of America; openness to immigration which has made America great.
Nearly 20,000 Americans of all colors and social conviction convened in Copley Square in downtown Boston on Sunday to express their dismay and fury over the refugee ban, which several federal courts partially struck down.
Democratic Socialists of America, members of American Jewish community, people from various churches, blacks, Latinos, American Muslims, college students, young, adult, elderly, and children with their mothers were in Copley Square for a peaceful protest.
“No Ban No Wall,” “We are all Muslims,” “American Jews stand with Muslims,” “Refugees all welcome” are among the banners that defined the mood prevalent in the square and in front of Boston Public Library where people expressed solidarity with refugees and Muslims.
The Globe Post talked to several participants in Copley Square about the protests and how they feel about the ban.
“I don’t accept it and I have to do something,” said Joseph Lieber whose grandparents were once immigrants and now live in New York. “Everybody is an immigrant in this country, even Donald Trump is an immigrant,” he said.
“I have been upset and angry for a while for the ban on immigrants. This is not the country I stand for,” Jonathan Deweese told the Globe Post. What disturbed him more is the fact that Mr. Trump’s ban came on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a day marked by people from all over the world to remember and pay tribute to the suffering of European Jews during Holocaust.
“It is more about us than them. It’s more about us feeling that we are not alone; that we are united; that there are other people who really care.”
“I’m not here really to convince Trump of anything. I don’t think that will happen. It is more about creating a culture among citizens that we care and we can be united about certain things,” he said when asked whether protests may convince the Trump administration to cancel the ban in its entirety.
“I feel our democratic values are under attack. I’m fighting for my children and all other fellow Americans being persecuted right now,” said Shayne Spaulding who came along with her son to the protest. She expressed hope that the protests may increase pressure on Congress to take action to scrap the whole policy.
“I’m here to protest this senseless, discriminatory ban that President Trump has put in against refugees from seven different countries. It is appalling what he is doing. These people should be welcome here,” Killy Martin who works for a social policy organization in Washington, D.C., told The Globe Post.
A female protester said she was scared as the world turned out to be a scary place. “The world is scary for the last week,” she said, referring to a hectic week that saw a number of executive orders by Mr. Trump in a way that has sown divisions in the American public, generated resentment and fear among minority groups, immigrants, and opponents of the new administration.
Mr. Trump’s first week served as a momentary validation of some public fears as he honored most of his promises on the campaign trail, which were dismissed at the time as unrealistic and hard to implement.
He said he will honor his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border after signing an executive order that unnerved its southern neighbor, prompting Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel his scheduled visit to Washington this week (Mr. Trump said the cancellation was mutually agreed). But what unleashed a nationwide protest wave was Mr. Trump’s decision to suspend refugee programs for all countries 120 days, and halting Syrian refugees indefinitely. The ban also covers travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
After protests in major U.S. cities, worldwide outcry and sharp condemnation from European leaders, the Trump administration said on Sunday that the green card holders will not be barred from entering the country. The statement came a day after two federal courts in New York City and Virginia struck down part of the executive order and demanded that green card holders be allowed to enter into the country.
“Just for the past week, we saw so many hateful things passed by our president,” a stunned young female protester told The Globe Post.
“It just feels like everything goes against our values as Americans to keep people out who especially are legally allowed to be here, even people who are living and contributing to our society,” she said, expressing her anxiety over the refugee ban. She declined to be named for the article.
“We are a welcoming country or it used to be. We want to continue to say that we are a welcoming country no matter what our government and the powerful say. We the people are welcoming [refugees],” Glenn King from First Parish Chelmsford, a Unitarian Universalist Congregation, said.
He provided a bleak outcast for the next couple of years as Mr. Trump’s policies unsettle many segments of the American society. “We have to reserve these parks for demonstrations a lot,” Mr. King said.
There were a lot of people with different religious and ethnic background in Copley Square, offering heartfelt support to the cause of Muslims who face serious risk of alienation and discrimination under the Trump administration.