Michael Wenye Li/Sun Staff Photographer

Hundreds gathered in the Commons at the Emergency Rally to Support Immigrant Rights on Saturday.

January 29, 2017

Ithaca Residents Flood Commons in Support of Immigrant Neighbors

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Following President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven countries, hundreds of determined Ithaca residents of all different ages, ethnicities and religions gathered together with their immigrant neighbors during the Emergency Rally to Support Immigrant Rights on Saturday.

The purpose of the rally was to send a supportive message to Muslims, Mexicans and other immigrant residents in Ithaca that the people of Ithaca do not tolerate racism and will defend and protect their rights, according to the organizers Prof. Paula Cohen, genetics, Ellen Walsh, Walaa Horan, Doa Abdel-Ghany and Gina Giambattista,

“We want to stress that we are all immigrants, and that if the Trump administration wants to come after one of us, they will have to come for all of us,” Cohen said.

Chants like “no hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here” and “2-4-6-8 we will not be ruled by hate” echoed through the air to start off the rally, followed by a speech from the organizers.

“We are here to send a very strong message to our government and to our new president that we disapprove of these actions and that these executive actions go against everything that makes us American,” Cohen said. “This goes against everything that this country was founded upon.”

Horan, an immigrant from Egypt herself, challenged the people to “fight these executive orders” by calling their representatives and legislators.

“My proudest moment as an Egyptian was seeing how we as a country stood together for the good of all,” she said. As much as she loves Egypt, she added, she loves this country enough to stay and fight for it and hopes Americans do the same.

Walsh said that as a white person, she is often asked why this cause matters to her and why she gets involved as someone who isn’t being threatened by Trump’s administration.

“When you target a group of people based on their nationality, or based on their religion, you miss out on all the love and learning that you only get knowing people who have had a different experience than you,” she explained.

Following the organizers’ speeches, participants vocalized their opposition against Trump’s isolationist immigration policies. Some acknowledged their white privilege in this country and explained that they refuse to sit back while their neighbors, coworkers and friends lived in fear.

The turnout far exceeded the organizers’ expectations, according to Horan. When the organizers were asking for the permit from the city, they had been expecting 50 people but the rally ended up drawing a crowd of between 200 and 300 supporters.

“Just seeing you all here, I know I’m not alone,” she said as she was brought to tears by the number of people who came and showed their support. “Ithaca represents the melting pot that is America. Yes, there are divisions, but we are trying to heal those divisions.”