Over 100 students and faculty members congregated on the Diag on Thursday to rally against President Donald Trump’s recent ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
President Trump’s executive order has temporarily suspended the immigration of citizens and refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the United States. While a nationwide block has been placed on the ban by U.S. District Senior Judge James Robart in Seattle, the Trump administration is currently working on an appeal.
The rally was organized by a group called Academic United — No to Visa and Immigration Ban: U Michigan, in an attempt to show their support for the immigrants, refugees and permanent U.S. residents affected by the ban. Organizers also spoke of the recent racist and anti-Semitic emails sent to students of the College of Engineering on Tuesday night, offering a sit-in to provide support.
A primary event organizer, who wished to remain anonymous due to concerns about her immigration status from a country impacted by the executive order, stated the rally’s goal was to “raise awareness to the University of Michigan community so they will know that the people who are affected by this executive order are actually their colleagues, their friends, their lab-mates, and people who they interact with on a day-to-day basis.”
The goal of Academics United- No to Visa and Immigration Ban rallies, according to their Facebook page, is “to demonstrate the impact of this action on thousands of honest and ambitious students.”
Along with the rally and sit-in provided for students affected by the hate emails sent to College of Engineering students, organizers of the rally provided an open mic for those wishing to share their stories or relate messages of hope and inspiration to the supporters.
One such speaker was Carlos Delgado, of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality, who said he was fighting for the rights of immigrants.
“We fight to uphold the principle of open borders and the rights of workers to live and work in whatever country they choose will full citizenship rights,” Delgado said. “We stand opposed to the right-wing attacks on immigration and the reactionary measures that are being intensified by the Trump administration and pursued by both Republicans and Democrats for several decades.”
Other speakers discussed how the ban was affecting other groups of minorities and cited many historical events they felt embodied some of the sentiments behind the immigration ban. The organizer referred to above spoke of her experiences as a Jewish woman and drew parallels between the current feelings toward Muslims and the feelings toward Jews during the World War II.
“I think a big issue with our community is that we need our voices to be heard,” the anonymous organizer said. “If you don’t speak out, your voice won’t be heard.”
These speeches were met with vocal approval from the crowd of more than 100 supporters dressed in a multitude of coats, hats, gloves and scarves to show their support despite frigid temperatures. The participants were sporting signs and banners featuring inspiring messages such as “Immigrants Are Welcome Here” and “No Ban, No Wall.”
Two attendees of the rally, LSA sophomore Ali Rosenblatt and Public Policy senior Meredith Joseph, were also creating a video designed to showcase their support for refugees and others affected by the immigration ban.
“Turning away refugees is detrimental, and we don’t want to see that happening again,” Rosenblatt said.
“We’re here for you, we stand with you,” Joseph said when asked what she would say to students suffering from the ban. “It’s all about standing in solidarity and making this community as welcoming as possible for everyone”
The University of Michigan, in light of the recent email incident and the current protest, sent a representative to speak on the behalf of University President Mark Schlissel. Carol Fierke, dean of Rackham Graduate School and vice provost for Academic Affairs and Graduate Studies, discussed the University’s supportive stance on student inclusion and equality.
“Our overwhelming message is; you are all welcome.”