House Democrats continued their protests of President Donald Trump’s recent executive order on immigration on Monday evening, marching down the East Front Capitol steps holding candles and singing “This Land Is Your Land,” heading to the Supreme Court to rally against the executive action.
“This cannot be the America that we know,” said California Rep. Judy Chu, one of several lawmakers who spoke during the demonstration.
Trump’s executive order, signed Friday, temporarily suspends refugee admissions for 120 days while placing an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria. In addition, the order bans citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, a time period the Trump administration says is needed to verify and possibly improve the strength of the visa-vetting process.
Chu recounted receiving “frantic calls” from her Los Angeles constituents Saturday. She said there were 50 Iranian detainees with U.S. green cards who were being held at Los Angeles International Airport, so she rushed there but Customers and Border Protection officials refused to answer her questions.
Among those being held were a 78-year-old woman, a seven-month-old child and a man with a green card who has made a home in the U.S. for more than 20 years, Chu said.
In addition to the lawmaker speeches Monday, a few Muslim refugees also addressed the crowd of several hundred outside of the Supreme Court.
“Refugees are not your enemy. Your enemy is the one who made them refugees,” said a man identifying himself as Omar, a journalist and filmmaker who fled Syria and came to the United States.
“I came here seeking freedom, the freedom of speech, the freedom of expressing my opinion without being harassed by police and security forces,” he said.
“You can’t paint 7 million Syrian refugees with a single brush and call them terrorists,” he added.
Senate Democrats and several hundred other protesters joined the House Democrats on Monday night.
The rally followed efforts by Democrats on Monday evening to bring legislation to the House and Senate floors to prohibit federal funds from being used to implement the executive order or to rescind the order outright.
California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, offered a unanimous consent request on the House floor to bring such legislation. Her request was rejected on the basis that the bill had not been made in order to be considered Monday. The legislation was sponsored by more than 160 House Democrats.
“In July last year, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America’s values,” Lofgren said in a statement after the rejected request. “Today, House Republicans had an opportunity to put those values to the test, but they failed. The demonization of Muslims and refugees is antithetical to American values of inclusion and tolerance.”
House Republicans have been relatively quiet about the executive order. Ryan released a statement Friday supporting it, saying, “President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country.”
But even other Republicans who support the goals of the temporary ban have said it is overly broad and should have been properly vetted first through the Justice, Homeland Security and other departments affected by the order.