CP photo by Ryan Deto
Hundreds of protesters fill Schenley Plaza to protest Trump's immigration and refugee orders
As quickly as President Donald Trump radically changes U.S. policies through executive orders, Pittsburghers seem to just as quickly organize mass protests in defiance of them.
Just three days after Trump signed executive orders to increase immigration enforcement, propose a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and reintroduce controversial immigration policies, more than 400 Pittsburghers rallied and marched in Oakland to protests the orders.
A day before the Jan. 28 march, Trump also signed an order banning internationals from mostly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days and banning Syrians indefinitely. His order also halted all refugee resettlement to the U.S. for 120 days. Protesters in Oakland decried all of the orders and another 300 some protesters filled the Pittsburgh International Airport on Jan. 29 to continue to decry Trump’s travel ban and refugee stay.
“We might have been born somewhere else, but we are Pittsburgh residents,” said Monica Ruiz of Latino and immigrant-rights group Casa San José at the Oakland rally. “We make Pittsburgh great.”
Duquesne University student Aishah Muhammad joined her Muslim family members in attending the protest on Jan. 28. Her parents are from Pakistan, and while that country was not on the list of Trump’s travel ban, she said she wanted to express solidarity and amplify the voices of PIttsburgh’s immigrant Muslims.
“[The orders are] ridiculous,” said Muhammad. “They are not fair. We need to keep protesting. We need Trump to hear us. There are kids in Syria who are going to die because of this Muslim ban.”
Katrina Finn, a Pittsburgh resident and health-care worker, also attended the Oakland rally and said it the constant flow of immigrants is what makes this country what it is. Finn is not an immigrant, nor a Muslim, but said it was important for people like here to also stand up to Trump’s policies.
“Most people may not feel an immediate impact,” said Finn. “But it's important to act before there is a big impact that would severely hurt the country.”
Public officials also reacted quickly to Trump’s executive orders. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and City Councilor Dan Gilman joined the rally of hundreds at the Pittsburgh airport. Gilman has recently introduced a slew of city bills aimed at protecting immigrants’ rights
and Peduto has vowed to legally challenge the federal government
, if Pittsburgh's immigration policies bring it under attack.
Led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, 17 attorneys general joined together in a statement to denounce the travel ban: “As the chief legal officers for over 131 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump's unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful Executive Order and will work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution.” Shapiro and Iowa AG Thomas John Miller were the only attorneys general among the 17 from states where Trump won on Election Day
But some elected officials were not as critical of the orders. Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, in typical endorse/not endorse fashion
, said Trump’s order was initially flawed, but now is in favor of the travel ban order since Trump’s administration clarified that the ban does not apply to green-card holders.
U.S. Congressman Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) also endorsed the order saying in a statement
: “President Trump is keeping his campaign promise to keep America safe and secure.” Rothfus also addressed Trump’s naysayers and requested that they read the full orders to be more informed.
This is where City Paper
actually agrees with Rothfus. You can read the Border Control
order, the Immigration in the Interior
order, and the travel ban
order at www.whitehouse.gov.
recommends the section about how undocumented immigrants can now be detained for merely "committing" a chargeable criminal offense; the part authorizing the “immediate construction” of a wall along U.S. Mexico border without mentioning a funding source; and the section mentioning the four-month suspension of all refugees to determine “additional procedures” to ensure refugees don’t “pose a threat to security,” even though the U.S. already has a very long and thorough refugee-vetting