Last Saturday, Feb. 4, the Colorado Springs community mobilized to declare solidarity with Muslim and immigrant neighbors and to oppose President Trump’s proposed border wall. The peaceful march, entitled “Stand with Our Muslim and Immigrant Neighbors Rally,” was co-organized by Unite Colorado Springs and the Colorado Springs Council for Justice.
The rally is a direct response to President Trump’s executive order denying refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries entry into the U.S. Trump claims the measure is “to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the U.S.” The action puts in place a 90-day block on entry to the U.S. for native citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia.
Additionally, the order explicitly bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. It is estimated that Assad’s regime has displaced 11 million Syrians, many of whom already face difficulties in successful resettlement. According to The Guardian, the executive order caps the total number of refugees allowed entry to the U.S. in 2017 to 50,000—less than half of the 117,000 allowed in 2016.
Trump’s executive order has been met with a flood of controversy. On both sides of the aisle there has been outrage over the immorality of excluding those who seek shelter from conflict in the Middle East. Furthermore, the ban runs counter to the U.S. constitutions’ principle of not discriminating on the basis of religion. Poor planning and roll out on the side of the White House also meant that green card holders, students on a visa, and other legally-visiting individuals to the U.S. were not able to enter the country when the executive order was first passed, though amendments allowing entry have been made in the wake of protests. While Trump claims the ban is not explicitly a Muslim ban, all seven countries listed in the executive order are majority Muslim.
Hundreds of the Colorado Springs community showed up and joined the protest with fervor, shouting, “No ban, no wall, equal rights for all!”
Ryan Berry of Unite Colorado Springs said he “was shocked and happy to see so many in the Springs turn out, and from a broad range of different backgrounds.”
After a march downtown to Acacia Park, community members rallied in front of City Hall and listened to speakers declare their opposition to the ban, including State Senator Michael Merrifield. “We have to keep America great—if that means every week then I’ll be here,” said Merrifield.
Participants of the march carried a variety of signs, many highlighting the fact that the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, emphasizing the “melting pot” mentality developed over the last century.
Sophomore Sophia Brown of the Colorado College Democrats agreed with these sentiments. “On a personal note, I feel really powerfully about allowing in refugees and not discriminating against people based on religion and nationality because I am Jewish,” she said. “I had family who died in the Holocaust because they couldn’t get visas into the U.S. And there is so much other history with the U.S. doing horrible things based on fear and racism, like Japanese internment camps.”
In a conservative city like Colorado Springs it can be difficult to work towards liberal progress. Berry, however, is confident in the future. “I’ve never seen such energy. People are really ready to engage and make tangible change,” he said of the current attitude in Colorado Springs. “[Unite Colorado Springs is] committed to giving them a voice and creating across-the-aisle dialogue with conservative neighbors.”
CC Democrats aim to collaborate with Unite Colorado Springs on progressive issues in the future. “The CC Dems are going to be working with UCS to get people educated and registered to vote for city council elections in April,” said Brown. “Moving forward I think CC students should focus on getting involved with progressive Colorado Springs organizations.”
Last week the “Muslim ban” was challenged by several federal judges. Washing-ton state Attorney General sued Trump, arguing that the ban is unconstitutional. The federal judge preceding over the case agreed, temporarily lifting the ban. On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the suspension of the ban.
Unite Colorado Springs considers the order “a blatant violation of human rights and fundamentally un-American. Denying entry to certain people because of their religion flies in the face of essential American values we all hold dear: freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and the right to privacy.