Hundreds of protesters braved the rain on Saturday to gather outside the Federal Building in Ann Arbor and march for immigrants’ rights in light of President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban, which was blocked by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland last week.
The mission of the Immigrants’ March in Ann Arbor — organized by independent Ann Arbor resident Brad Adam and a direct-action organization called Stop Trump Ann Arbor — included promoting the message shared on the event page: “No human being is illegal.” The march also aimed to remove Immigration and Customs Enforcement from nearby communities and challenge the Trump administration’s immigration policies, and was a sister march for a similar one being held in Washington, D.C. in the near future.
March volunteer Alexandria Schulz, a University of Michigan alum, joined the efforts partly because of her own cultural background. Schulz’s father is an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, and she believes immigration is a topic that affects all Americans.
“Unless you’re Native American, you’re an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants,” she said.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D–Mich.) was in attendance and thanked the spirited marchers for uniting to fight for the rights of all Americans, urging them to not be divided by hate and fear.
“We’re in the rain and cold because we’re protecting the constitution,” Dingell exclaimed to the cheering crowd.
Dingell promised to advocate for immigrant rights when she returned to Washington, D.C.
LSA freshman Lin Wang came to lend his support because he felt it was important for him to stand up for immigrant rights.
“I’m the son of immigrants so I feel like we should stand and support them,” Wang said. “With everything that’s going on in politics, it’s not representative of what America stands for.”
The crowd consisted of UM students, professors, Ann Arbor residents and students from as far as Albion. Among them was six-year-old Allegra Graf, daughter of Art & Design professor Roland Graf. Her father is of Austrian heritage, and her mother, who is from Brazil, gave birth to Allegra in Vienna. Andréia Graf explained she brought Allegra and her other daughter, Vida, who is three years old, to the march to help the girls understand the issues the country is facing.
When asked why she joined the march, Allegra — holding up a homemade sign that read “Not nice Mr. Trump” — said, “Because Donald Trump is not letting all the people from different lands live here.”
Bystanders stopped to watch the procession march down Liberty Street before turning onto State Street to get to the Diag, some even joining in with the protesters’ chants: “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “No cooperation with Trump’s deportation.”
Before and after the march, speakers shared their stories with the marchers. Volunteers from Stop Trump Ann Arbor spoke as well, discussing their efforts to help victims of detentions and deportation. Art & Design senior Keysha Wall spoke on the importance of action in the current political climate.
“We’ve won the freedom for Yousef, who’s a father of four in Ann Arbor who was being held in Kalamazoo,” they said. “We’re also working to get bond for another Ann Arbor resident. We are saying no cooperation with ICE whatsoever. Ann Arbor needs to become a sanctuary city and U of M needs to become a sanctuary campus.”
Signs that read “families have no borders” and “without immigrants, Trump couldn’t have as many wives” were on display, including one that read, “immigrants make America great” held by a man wearing a black-and-white prisoner jumpsuit and sporting a papier-mâché mask of Trump’s head with a grumpy expression.
Other students, however, have met Trump’s ban with mixed reactions. Engineering freshman Lincoln Merrill, publicity chair of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Republicans, told the Daily in a January interview that while many people have labeled the order a ban on Muslims, the title ignores many Muslim countries that were not affected.
“To be clear, President Trump’s immigration order is not a ‘Muslim ban,’ nor is it a ban on anyone or anything,” Merrill said. “If the people calling this order a ‘Muslim ban’ were correct, that would imply that immigration from around 50 Muslim-majority countries would be terminated and that a religious test would be implemented to enter the country.”