Protesters lined West Congress Street outside of Sen. John McCain’s Tucson office on Jan. 31 to stand against President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration.
Trump’s executive order bans all refugees and citizens of seven Muslim countries from entering the United States.
The protest in Tucson brought together activists, both young and old, whose message was in agreement with McCain’s public statement opposing the ban.
McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., released a statement on Sunday saying that “our government has a responsibility to defend our borders, but we must do so in a way that makes us safer and upholds all that is decent and exceptional about our nation.”
Joel Feinman, a co-organizer of the demonstration, said he was expecting 30 to 50 people. But within an hour and a half, he said there was about 400 to 500 people.
But by the end of the night, more than 1,000 people came out, according to a Tucson Police Department officer.
Trump’s ban on immigration wasn’t the only thing protesters took issue with.
“Everything,” Feinman said. “Everything Trump has done. His executive orders, the fact that he is banning immigrant brothers and sisters from war-torn countries, the fact that he is discriminating against Muslims in favor of Christians, the fact that all of his policies, almost all of his policies, go against who we are as Americans and what we represent.”
The protest ran from 4-7 p.m. and the crowd stretched on both sides of Congress Street, from McCain’s office to the district courthouse and the Arizona Supreme Court’s Administrative Office of the Courts.
“People united will never be divided,” activists chanted. “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcomed here.”
The Gloo Factory of Tucson set up tables and sold signs, T-shirts, buttons and stickers with slogans in opposition of President Trump. Others were gathering signatures for protesters to register to vote.
Mahasin Alyosef, an interpreter for the International Rescue Committee, is from Iraq. She came to the U.S. on a special immigrant visa, an SIV. She previously worked for the U.S. Military as an interpreter. She has now been with the IRC in Tucson for a year and a half.
Alyosef said Tucson will be directly affected by the ban. She said refugees are working in Tucson and, by bringing a new culture from the Middle East, Tucson will become more progressive.
She explained how happy she is from seeing the protest’s turnout. It was nothing like she imagined, and she appreciates everything the protesters are doing.
“I just want to say to all the Americans, not just in Tucson, but in all the states, we are all together,” Alyosef said. “We are not separate. We are human.”
She said her family lives in Iraq and she’s been trying to bring them to America, but now she cannot.
“We want to live in peace as you want to live in peace,” Alyosef said. “We couldn’t find that peace in our country, but maybe we can find it here.”
Alyosef said the next step is to talk
and support each other and that we need to reach some solution for the families affected.
“We want to change the political system from the top down and the bottom up and to elect political leaders who will institute serious progressive political reform and live up to the Constitution of the United States of America,” Feinman said. “Let in immigrants. Let in Muslims and actually live by the best principles that made this country great.”
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