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Hundreds Protest Trump’s Immigration Ban at Marsh Plaza Rally

“No hate, no fear! Refugees are welcome here!” students chant

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A protest that was quickly organized by BU students in response to President Trump’s sweeping executive order on immigration drew several hundred people to Marsh Plaza Monday afternoon.

Chanting “Sanctuary for all! No ban, no wall!” and “No hate, no fear! Refugees are welcome here!” the crowd, comprising mostly students, cheered speakers for more than an hour despite the cold temperatures.

“I believe our democracy is under threat,” said Jack Davidson (GRS’17), a graduate student at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, about why he had attended the No Ban, No Wall: Rally against Xenophobia. “I believe when you take away the rights of some, it’s just a matter of time before the rights of the rest of us go with them.

“We’re sending a message and pushing people off the fence,” Davidson said. “People who haven’t spoken up on where they stand—they’d better speak up.”

“I’m here today because I believe that Trump’s executive orders are misguided and wrong, and we need to raise our voice to show what we think,” said attendee Katherine Seaton (GRS’17). “I was at the march in Boston yesterday, where 20,000 people showed up, and it was all over the news, and so I hope President Trump sees that and notices that people are unhappy.”

The BU rally was organized quickly through a Facebook page after Trump signed an executive order last Friday banning all refugees from entering the United States for 120 days, blocking entry for all residents from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for at least 90 days, and indefinitely banning all refugees from Syria. The executive order spurred numerous legal challenges and massive rallies in many cities, including Boston, on Sunday.

“All of us Muslims know that complacency is not okay,” said Ibrahim Rashid (CAS’19), a Pardee School international relations major, one of an ad hoc group of Muslim activists and allies who organized the Marsh Plaza rally.

“We’ve all pooled together our resources and our connections and are getting organized,” says Rashid. “We’re all scared, but we’re not going to be silent while our community suffers.”

Students at Boston University participate in a rally protesting Donald Trump's Executive Order Immigration and Refugee Ban

Monday’s rally also gave voice to students opposed to Trump’s plans to build a wall along the Mexican border.

A Town Hall meeting, hosted by Global Programs and the Dean of Students office, is being held today at 5:30 p.m. at the George Sherman Union’s Metcalf Hall to address the concerns of BU students and faculty about the executive order. Speakers will include Willis Wang, vice president and associate provost for global programs, Jeanne Kelley, managing director of the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO), immigration attorney Elizabeth Goss, and Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), associate provost and dean of students. The event will be livestreamed here.

BU President Robert A. Brown penned a January 30 Boston Globe op-ed decrying the executive order. He wrote that  the executive order is “fundamentally inconsistent with the values that are the bedrock of higher education, and indeed, of our pluralistic, welcoming society.”

BU has 102 undergraduate and graduate students and 16 scholars from the seven countries that are under the 90-day moratorium. But many at the rally said they see the administration’s immigration order, along with the proposed border wall, as part of a larger threat to Arabs and Jews, blacks and Hispanics, non-Christians and LGBTQ people. Jordan Zepher (STH’17) read two poems at the rally, one characterizing the lives and activism of people of color as “a love letter to a nation that doesn’t love us back.”

“I’m here because the ban is a fundamental threat to the way society should be structured and a menace to people I know and care about, and I’ve got to take a stand now,” said Keegan Blute (CAS’17).

“You go through middle school and high school learning about things like the Holocaust and segregation, and you think, what would I have done if I was there?” Blute said. “And now that this is in front of you, that’s something you can answer. I want to be on the right side of this.”

“The protest today touches on two different events, but both of them I believe are not in spirit of what this country stands for,” said Kelcey Rusch, a cook from Somerville, who was holding a “No ban, no wall” sign. “The travel ban is illegal; the wall is a complete misuse of funds.”

Joining the rally “makes me feel like I’m contributing to some kind of action.” Rusch said. “I can’t sit back and do nothing, because it feels like it could get worse.”

11 Comments
Joel Brown, writer, BU Today at Boston University
Joel Brown

Joel Brown can be reached at jbnbpt@bu.edu.

11 Comments on Hundreds Protest Trump’s Immigration Ban at Marsh Plaza Rally

  • Missy on 01.31.2017 at 6:40 am

    Unfortunately, it seems that this nation has lost its collective mind. The FBI has dropped the ball on the Boston marathon bombers (who were asylum seeking refugees) and on the most recent terrorist act as well even after the perpetrator basically told them of his intentions. All of these terrorist acts had one common denominator and it was not a connection to the Irish Republican Army! If the FBI cannot effectively determine who among those individuals already here wants to commit a heinous act of terrorism then it logically follows that an effective system of vetting those seeking refuge here does not cirrently exist.

    It is sad that innocent people waiting to come here may have to wait longer but by comparison the victims of the Boston bombers will never recover from the harm inflicted upon them by the two political asyum seeking refugees. Sadly those who oppose this ban would rather hollar feel good slogans in the streets than confront this harsh reality.

    • Edina on 01.31.2017 at 11:49 am

      Missy-

      Please note the difference between “asylum seekers” and “refugees” as they have a COMPLETLEY different legal meaning and therefore, a different process of vetting and applying for admittance to the United States. Your lumping together of the two is NOT factually correct. Please also note that those who committed the terrorist acts in Boston grew up here.

      Do you actually know ANYTHING about the refugee resettlement process? Do you know how long it takes to go through it and the extent of it? What about all the Green Card holders who have been detained and deported? How is it EVER okay to discriminate against someone based on their religion? How is that humane…how is that American at all?

      It is concerning to see people like you make comments like this when you seem to know NOTHING at all even when it comes to different types of legal statues of those inside our country, as well as those trying to enter it.

    • SBA on 01.31.2017 at 12:01 pm

      Two things in response to this comment:

      1) A person can migrate to the U.S., while having no intention to commit acts of terror, and then years later, make a decision to do exactly that. My understanding is that is what happened with the Boston bombers: they were radicalized years after immigrating here.

      2) Just because the FBI cannot identify every person who wants to commit acts of terror (which is an unfeasible goal anyhow) that does not mean our vetting process for refugees is inadequate. The two have nothing to do with each other. It takes years for potential refugees to be vetted, by multiple gov’t agencies, and there is no guarantee an applicant will make it to the U.S. Navigating the refugee process is perhaps the least effective way for a potential terrorist to reach our shores. Much easier would be flying to Canada and crossing over the border. And yet no one has even done that yet.

      Long story short, don’t let fear and ignorance drive our decision making. People are fleeing war zones and we are turning them away. We did this before during WW2 – let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.

    • Frank on 01.31.2017 at 12:26 pm

      What Trump is doing is analogous to the following:

      A couple of people have been pushed onto subway tracks in NYC. Therefore, I am now going to arbitrarily ban all people from the subway who fit a certain profile (whether it’s religion or national origin) and only if they live in certain neighborhoods. It’s arbitrary, haphazard and ineffective, not to mention WRONG.

  • Your NH Neighbor on 01.31.2017 at 7:56 am

    Headline: Spurred to action by staff and faculty at Boston University that side with liberal media and politicians in opposing an action the President promised during his campaign, impressionable young people duped into demonstrating for a cause they barely understand. If he had not taken this temporary measure, they all would have been crying that he did not keep his campaign promises. Contrast that with the former President who pledged to support traditional marriage and then “evolved” and completely betrayed many of his constituents by failing to enforce federal law (e.g., DOMA).

    • TB on 01.31.2017 at 9:43 am

      Pretty sure everyone who is opposed to Trump has been praying that he wouldn’t keep his campaign promises.

      • MET Alum on 01.31.2017 at 11:33 am

        Trump is keeping his campaign promises. That is downright un-American!

  • Richard Yeo on 01.31.2017 at 9:01 am

    As an alumnus (CAS’55) and former BU campus minister, I am heartened by student protests. The University has evolved from my time into an international institution. I trust that the administration will do everything within its power to protect all our students. “America First” is a retreat from the best we have to offer – and unfortunately a reminder of isolationist nationalism that needs to be confronted. We can be silent and be run over or we can resist.

  • Tricia on 01.31.2017 at 11:14 am

    Very proud of BU students for making their voices heard. Agree or disagree they are engaged & taking their duty as citizens seriously. This ban is doing far more to hurt our nation’s security than help. I defer to those in the intelligence community who think this is a bad idea. The “ban” was ill thought out and poorly written. The lack of any legal and/or policy experience/input is glaring. Having a conspiracy theorist like Bannon as your go-to guy is a bad idea, to say the least.

  • Nila L on 01.31.2017 at 5:32 pm

    “We are all different. There is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit.”
    — Stephen Hawking

    Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior is Racism. And we must never underestimate the danger of racism.
    The list of major tragedies in our history that were caused solely by this phenomenon is mind-boggling. Slavery, the Holocaust, The Crusades, the genocide of the American Indian. The list could go on and on. So many people have died or been deprived of basic rights because of a lack of understanding — an understanding that difference in appearance, belief, or way of life does not make one person better than another. That is why racism is against the law. Has party of Lincoln just nominated a racist to be president? We shouldn’t toss around such accusations lightly. One early red flag arose in 1973, when President Richard Nixon’s Justice Department — not exactly the radicals of the day — sued Trump and his father, Fred Trump, for systematically discriminating against blacks in housing rentals.
    Fred Trump appears to have been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in 1927; Woody Guthrie, who lived in a Trump property in the 1950s, lambasted Fred Trump in recently discovered papers for stirring racial hatred.
    Yet even if Donald Trump inherited his firm’s discriminatory policies, he allied himself decisively in the 1970s housing battle against the civil rights movement. Here we have a man who for more than four decades has been repeatedly associated with racial discrimination or bigoted comments about minorities. Because of his problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity — substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars

    We must consciously embrace diversity and say no to racism. For our country for our children.

  • Lauren on 02.01.2017 at 12:02 pm

    Civic engagement is the bedrock of our society within America as well. These students represent the university and its welcoming values valiantly. I’m very proud to see them stand up for equality and promise for all.

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