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Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017 12:09 am

Springfield reacts to Trump’s immigration order

Protesters showing their signs of solidarity as local chapters of the American Liberty Civil Unions and the Better Change for Tomorrow hold joint immigration and healthcare rallies.


President Trump’s immigration executive order, which banned refugees from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States, mobilized the Springfield community to organize a rally on Monday at the Old State Capitol.

The executive order bans entry for 120 days to permanent residents and visa-carrying refugees from Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen who are seeking to resettle in the U.S, while permanently banning entry to Syrian refugees.

Rasha Alahdab, a Muslim activist and attorney from Syria, addressed Trump’s campaign comments about Muslims during Monday’s rally.

“He said those Muslims are terrorists. My mother, she’s a doctor in pharmacy from Syria.… My mother, she has a green card, and now she cannot come to U.S. because of (Trump’s) order,” she said. “Regardless of the education. We are human beings. We don’t want to again and again prove that Muslims are not terrorists.”

Alahdab said Trump’s executive order comes as a “war against Islam,” not against terrorists.

“President Trump wants to make us afraid of each other,” she said.

Holding up the Syrian flag, Alahdab added that millions of people have died for their freedom.

Fatima Rashib, a student from Springfield High School, said she wanted to have a chance to respond to President Trump’s immigration executive order by attending the rally.

“People always ask me why I wear this headscarf,” she said. “There was this one time when someone shouted out ‘terrorist.’ I never knew who it was but I think they (were) trying to be funny, but it really wasn’t.”

Fatima Rashib’s parents emigrated from Sudan, a country in Northern Africa, allowing her the opportunity to grow up in the U.S.

“It was a very big transition for my parents to come here. I’m glad they decided to,” she said.

The Islamic Society of Greater Springfield, a nonprofit organization, expressed their concerns on the impact of the executive order on the Muslim community.

Maryam Mostoufi, a spokesperson of the ISOGS, said the Islamic community in Springfield is composed of up to 30 different ethnic groups.

“The ban on Muslims to the United States directly impacts many members of our congregation,” she said. “We never had any kind of challenge to our rights in this form before.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has been actively involved in providing legal counsel to those who have been detained at U.S. airports.

Donald Hanrahan, president of the American Civil Liberties Union in Springfield, said the executive order violates the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.

“No ban, no wall!” he chanted. “It violates the Constitution that Muslim soldiers have died defending, and it’s contrary to our values for pluralism and equal protection.”

Hanrahan said his grandparents emigrated from Ukraine, fleeing political oppression.

“My grandparents were the fortunate ones. Members of their families who were left behind were murdered in the violence following the Russian revolution,” he said. “I think of all those people…who wanted to come to this country and where unable to because of the restricted immigration laws that prevailed from 1924 to 1965.”

Illinois Action for a Better Tomorrow, also showed their support for the rally. ACTION is a Facebook group of about 1,800 members, with the purpose of organizing interest groups for local political advocacy.

Jennifer Camille Lee, a leader of ACTION, said she saw the rally as an opportunity for more women to be involved in local advocacy issues.

ACTION member Meg Evans added people should express their rights.

“I think this is how democracy works, we show up and speak up,” she said.

Meanwhile, University of Illinois President Tim Killeen and UIS Chancellor Susan Koch issued a letter to students, faculty and staff Monday asking those who might be affected by the executive order to avoid traveling until further notice.

Jonathan Goldberg Belle, director for international programs at UIS, said the university is working closely with its sister schools, UIC and UIUC.

“We want to make sure we catch everybody who would be impacted one way or another. The case might be the individual is not directly impacted, but family members will be,” he said.

Goldberg Belle added that the international program office is coordinating with the international student service office and other services on campus as part of the effort to reach out to those affected by the executive order.

Debby Hernandez is an editorial intern at Illinois Times. She is pursuing her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting at University of Illinois Springfield.

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