NEW YORK / WASHINGTON: Tens of thousands of people rallied in US cities and at airports on Sunday to voice outrage over President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting entry into the country for travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.
In New York, Washington and Boston, a second wave of demonstrations followed spontaneous rallies that broke out at US airports on Saturday as US Customs and Border Protection agents began enforcing Trump’s directive. The protests spread westward as the day progressed.
The order, which bars admission of Syrian refugees and suspends travel to the United States from Syria, Iraq, Iran and four other countries on national security grounds, has led to the detention or deportation of hundreds of people arriving at US airports.
Activists gather outside the Trump International Hotel to protest President Donald Trump’s executive actions on immigration in Washington January 29, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS
One of the largest of Sunday’s protests took place at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, within sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, long a symbol of welcome to US shores.
Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York told the crowd that Trump’s order was un-American and ran counter to the country’s core values. “What we are talking about here is life and death for so many people,” the Senate Democratic leader said. “I will not rest until these horrible orders are repealed.”
The march, estimated to have grown to about 10,000 people, later began heading to the US Customs and Border Protection office in lower Manhattan.
In Washington, thousands rallied at Lafayette Square across from the White House, chanting: “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.” It was the second straight weekend that Washington was the scene of protests. Last Saturday, hundreds of thousands of women participated in an anti-Trump rally and march, one of dozens staged across the country.
On Sunday, many of the protesters left the White House area and marched along Pennsylvania Avenue, stopping at the Trump International Hotel where they shouted: “Shame, shame, shame.”
A crowd that police estimated at 8,000 people eventually arrived at the steps of the US Capitol, where a line of uniformed officers stood guard.
As the crowd passed the Canadian Embassy en route to the Capitol, protesters chanted: “Hey hey, ho ho, I wish our leader was Trudeau.” It was a reference to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Saturday Twitter message affirming his country’s welcoming policy toward refugees.
Trump defended the executive order in a statement on Sunday, saying the United States would resume issuing visas to all countries once secure policies were put in place over the next 90 days.
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” Trump said. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”