Protesters rallied against President Donald Trump’s travel ban in New York on Thursday evening, just hours before the revised ban took effect at 8 p.m.
More than 100 protesters chanted “Say it loud, say it clear: immigrants are welcome here!” and waved signs reading “Wanted: Bona Fide President” at the demonstration in Union Square Park, which was organized by nonprofit groups including the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York.
The travel restrictions, which were temporarily reinstated by the Supreme Court this week, prevent people from six Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., unless they can prove a “bona fide relationship” with someone in this country. Parents, step-parents and in-laws are all allowed in, but grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are not. The Trump Administration argues the travel ban is necessary for national security, while opponents say the ban is ineffective and discriminatory. The Supreme Court will hear the case in October, but allowed portions of the ban to go forward in the meantime.
Linda Sarsour, a Muslim-American activist and lead organizer of the Women’s March on Washington, said at Thursday’s rally that the State Department’s definition of “bona fide relationship” is dehumanizing. “Nobody gets to define for us who a family is,” she said. “The ban isn’t just a ban on travel. It is a Muslim refugee ban.”
Another protester, 28-year-old Yemeni-American Widad Hassan, said she’s concerned about the ban’s potential impact on her grandparents, sister-in-law and newborn nephew, who all live in Yemen, one of the affected countries. “Our whole family is all divided, and it’s just been really emotionally devastating,” she said.
Nisrin Elamin, a Sudanese Ph.D student, said she was among the dozens of people detained at JFK Airport in January as she tried to reenter the country shortly after Trump’s first travel ban went into effect. “Who does and doesn’t have the right to feel safe and secure?” Elamin told the group of protesters Thursday night. “National security has always been used to justify state violence and surveillance against communities of color in this country.”