Executive Order Protests Erupt at Puget Sound


By Aidan Regan

In 2015, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” On Friday, President Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”

Following two other immigration-related executive orders, this one suspends all refugees from entry into the United States for 120 days, as well as citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen—for 90 days. This includes citizens with visas. The order also suspended green card holders who were out of the United States at the time Trump signed the order, but they are now allowed back into the country on a case-by-case basis after a secondary screening.

The executive order is an evolution of Trump’s original call to ban Muslims from entering the United States. On January 28, Rudy Giuliani told Fox News that Trump asked him how to implement a legal “Muslim ban.” Yet the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights questioned the order’s legality, saying on Twitter that “Discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law. The US ban is also mean-spirited, and wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism.”

The stated goal of the order is to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals,” However, The Washington Post reported that “Jihadist groups on Sunday celebrated the Trump administration’s ban…[validating] their claim that the United States is at war with Islam.” Senator John McCain told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the order will “give ISIS some more propaganda,” and CNN reported that it is a “boon for ISIS recruitment.” In a recent interview with Fox News, Trump called ISIS “sneaky, dirty rats.”

In response to the orders, Puget Sound’s President Crawford wrote in a campus-wide email that the order “[heightens] our concerns for the safety and wellbeing of members of our campus community and of our democracy.” The email also announced the reactivation of the Undocumented Students Work Group to “assist us in considering all that can be done—ethically, morally, and legally—to protect…our campus community.”

Trump signed the order abruptly, and without legal review from the Department of Homeland Security. “If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the “bad” would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad “dudes” out there!” Trump tweeted in defense.

Yet the order caused global confusion as Customs and Border Protection officials had to enact the sudden order and airports attempted to adjust to the new policy. Immigration officials detained several people at airports across the United States and barred passengers from flights into the country, leaving them stranded. Despite the chaos, Trump told reporters on Saturday that “It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports. You see it all over.”

In response to the executive order and its outcome, protests erupted at airports on Saturday, including at SeaTac Airport. The Seattle Times reported that six travelers were detained in SeaTac by that time. Protests began in the late afternoon, and the protesters included several Puget Sound students.

“It was amazing to see how many showed up to protest,” Puget Sound Junior Sophie Myers said. “We must fight for justice at the local level every day.”

“As the protest went on the police got violent, which was pretty scary and frustrating,” Puget Sound senior Hailey Shoemaker said. Around midnight, police in riot gear began deploying tear gas, shoving protesters with bicycles, and detaining them. According to the Seattle Times, police arrested more than 30 protesters. Puget Sound Senior Alissa Charvonia called the actions of the actions of the police “extremely aggressive.”

“I went primarily as a Jew, knowing that my ancestors had been subject to similar discrimination and left to our deaths by countries like America closing their gates to us,” Charvonia said. “It would go against all my beliefs not to speak out in a tangible way…I’m really grateful for all the Loggers who went, and for being able to hear the perspectives of immigrants and organizers and ACLU lawyers working on the front lines to make sure justice doesn’t fall to dangerous fearmongering like it did during Japanese internment or the Holocaust. It was devastating that we had to say it, but really empowering to say and mean ‘never again.’”

Protests of Trump’s executive orders continued at Puget Sound. On Monday, the Puget Sound club Advocates for Detainees’ Voices (ADV) led a “No Ban, No Wall, No Silence” rally in the Wheelock Student Center.

Students, faculty, staff, and community members filled the cafeteria while chanting “refugees are welcome here,” “no justice, no peace,” and “no Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” The group then set up a loudspeaker and microphone for the protestors to speak. History professor Nancy Bristow began by outlining Trump’s executive orders and rallying the crowd to stand up to injustice. “You don’t need strong leaders because you are strong people,” she said.

Ten other speakers followed, sharing their experiences of discrimination and calling upon the crowd to “not be on the wrong side of history” and “not let Trump define this country.” “It was inspiring to see the campus come together,” first year Sophia Spizzirri said. “I appreciated the narratives that we heard” junior Griffin Marieb said.

“I was very moved and enlivened,” Director for Spiritual Life & Civic Engagement Dave Wright said. “In this moment when so many voices rooted in bias and discrimination would seek to tear us apart, I’m so grateful for the work of leaders from ADV and members of our faculty to bring us together to unite our voices to name our pain, passion, anger, and hope. The rally was a highlight of my day, and a bright light of resistance to the racism and Islamophobia currently so visible in this country.”

The rally ended with ADV president Amanda Diaz validating the emotions in the room and encouraging further action. On February 3, ADV will be hosting another event called “Here to Stay: Sanctuary Campus Learn-In” from 12-3 pm at the Wheelock Student Center. There members of the Puget Sound community will educate one another on topics surrounding the “sanctuary campus” classification, undocumented students, and effective activism in the current political climate.

“This does not end here,” Diaz said. “It’s time to take it a step further.

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