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Tens of thousands protest Trump’s immigration ban

Activists gather near the White House on Jan. 29 to protest President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. | John Shinkle/POLITICO

Protests erupted in multiple cities on Sunday in response to President Donald Trump’s bid to restrict immigrants and refugees, the second straight day of clamorous public pushback after he issued a controversial executive order that barred entry to individuals from certain majority-Muslim countries.

Thousands converged on the White House for a boisterous rally that turned into a march on the Capitol after remarks from Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). Chants of “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here” gave way to hurled cries of “Shame!” as marchers passed the Trump International Hotel.

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A growing number of congressional Democrats joined the demonstrations Sunday, including three House Democrats who were among hundreds of protesters at Dulles International Airport outside Washington pressing for detainees to have access to lawyers.

Public furor over Trump’s move late Friday to block all Syrian refugees and temporarily halt visas for those from seven majority-Muslim nations also raged in other cities, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) joining thousands in New York City. Aerial photos showed thousands more protesting in Boston, with large gatherings in Philadelphia, New Orleans and other Eastern cities, which were expected to be followed by demonstrations on the West Coast later on Sunday.

The diverse crowd of demonstrators at the White House included parents with children on their shoulders and slung in their arms. Protesters hailing from many religious faiths professed their support for an inclusive immigration policy as a centerpiece of American values.

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“This is bigger than just people who are anti-Trump or people who were pro-Hillary,” said James Mackey, 37, who said he grew up in a “very small evangelical community” in Iowa. “This is about all Americans. It’s not just about Muslim Americans, Christian Americans, Jewish Americans. You’re seeing that bigger picture.”

The White House protest, which drew some 16,000 RSVPs on Facebook, grew rapidly in size by midday before the two Democratic senators arrived on the scene. Chelsea Clinton tweeted a photo that appeared to show her joining the huge crowd in New York, where Schumer spoke soon after announcing that Democrats would push legislation to roll back Trump’s order.

“We will fight against anti-Muslim rhetoric,” Harris told the cheering crowd outside the White House. “We will stand against all those who would marginalize who we are as a community. We will not stand for this!”

One demonstrator, Mashuqur Rahman, 48, held a sign that said, “American Muslim Patriot” with an arrow pointing toward him. He moved to the U.S. as a child from Bangladesh in 1978.

“Instead of keeping terrorists out, we’re keeping the very people who are being hurt by the terrorists out,” he said. “If we send these people back, they’ll die.”

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He added: “No matter how they couch it in legal language, it is a Muslim ban.”

But it’s also “all minorities” being targeted by the new administration, he said. He pointed to Trump’s Friday statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which roused Democratic criticism for neglecting to mention Jews.

“Who does that?” he said. “That’s Holocaust-denial code.”

At Dulles airport, Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) asked security officials for permission to meet with detainees who were still seeking access to lawyers. Metropolitan police officials denied the requests from the lawmakers, who were unable to get an audience with Customs and Border Protection officials.

Among the protesters supporting the detainees was Ralph Parrott, a Fairfax Station resident who said he joined the protests with his wife, Betty, because he’s “had a belly fully of this guy Trump doing stupid things.”

Parrott said he’s a retired Navy captain who served in Vietnam.

“This is one of the first times I’ve ever been ashamed of my country,” he said.

The Parrotts, who said they supported Hillary Clinton in November, noted that a number of their relatives had fled oppressive regimes overseas.

Betty Parrott said she came to Dulles to “counteract the ugliness” of the executive order.

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Joining the effort at the White House was Georgia Warner, 33, who held aloft a sign that read: “Raising my son to tear down your wall. #NoBanNoWall.”

She was joined by her husband, Chris Miller, and their son, Owen, who was born on Election Day.

“We thought he was going to be born into this awesome new world with the first female president,” she said. “Alas, he was not.”

But protests in recent weeks against actions that “chip away at America’s integrity” have been lifting their spirits, she said.

“This is the only thing that sort of keeps me hopeful,” she said, as throngs of people around her chanted and waved their signs.

“The instant you start to feel alone in all this is the moment you maybe start giving up,” she said.

As for her plans going forward: “Resist, every day.”

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Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories

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