ITHACA, N.Y. — On Saturday, Ithaca-area activists are hosting an Emergency Rally to Support Immigrant Rights as a response to recent anti-immigrant executive orders signed by President Donald Trump.
Four women, who participated in the Women’s March helped organize the rally, which is happening from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Ithaca Commons.
Trump’s executive orders have made headlines this week, as well as some drafted orders not signed as of early Friday afternoon. One draft includes putting a temporary ban on immigrants, refugees and visitors — based partly on factors such as their religion or country of origin. Earlier this week, Trump signed an order that a wall be built between the Mexico–United States border.
Organizer Paula Cohen said, “It’s bloody scary, right? It just keeps coming and coming – it’s a torrent of aggression. You can barely swallow one bit of bad news before another is thrown at you!”
Cohen was born and raised in Nigeria but immigrated to the United States from the United Kingdom. She said that she is privileged because she is “white as white can be” and benefits from not having to live with people’s skepticism about her.
She said, “Because when I walk down the street, I don’t need to worry that people are looking at me thinking ‘Why doesn’t she go back to her own country?’”
That’s different from other immigrants she’s met in the area.
Rally Organizer Walaa Maharem-Horan was born in Egypt and has lived in England, Canada and the United States. She became a citizen a few years ago.
She said her family has sacrificed for this country in ways Trump’s family has not. For instance, she said her sister gave up her Egyptian citizenship to join the United States Army.
“So for Trump to say he is going to do checks on ‘foreign-born nationals’ and target someone like my sister who will do for this country something he wasn’t willing to do is unacceptable,” Maharem-Horan said. “Trump has never had to make a sacrifice in his life, including living with the fear of a loved one serving in the armed forces – it makes me so, so, so angry.”
She said she would not release her sister’s name for fear that she will be targeted for harassment or violence because of her nationality.
Organizer Ellen Walsh called the new executive orders “….the beginning of a new and more brutal era akin to McCarthyism.”
That’s why — with the help of local organizer Gina Giambattista, who got the permits for the rally, — the women teamed up to get Saturday’s rally put together within a matter of days. They’re hoping that people, spurred into action by the Women’s March on Ithaca last weekend, will come together to stand with others in the community
Cohen said, “We can’t rest on our laurels, so this kickstarts our continued activity.”
Featured photo by Benjamin Torrey/ The Ithaca Voice.