Author: Hillary Pirtle, Vice Chair of the 38th Legislative District Democrats
For the duration of the 2016 US presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised massive disruption of the American political landscape, marked by racially divisive and xenophobic rhetoric. In his first ten days in office, President Trump delivered on this promise with a series of controversial Executive Orders, many of which seemed to come as a surprise to lawmakers and lack constitutional grounding. This blitzkrieg of autocratic decrees not only delivers on Trump’s divisive campaign rhetoric, but quickly sets the norms and expectations of the Trump administration: secrecy, lies, and chaos. But for all the negativity that has come with his presidency, Trump has awoken from its depressive post-election stupor the newly defiant left wing of the country. We have a resistance.
On Fridy January 20, protesters turned out both nationally and globally to oppose the inauguration of President Trump. The next day, millions of women marched in solidarity in every state of the union, on every continent on Earth – to protest the open hostility of the incoming administration to human rights, including equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and Black Lives Matter. In Seattle, the Women’s March had approximately 130,000 attendees and was marked with diversity in age, race, and socio-economic class.
On Friday January 27th, Trump hastily signed Executive Order 13769, aka the “Muslim Ban”. The order immediately stopped visitors, students, and most confusingly green card-holding legal permanent residents of the United States. If you want to enter the US from any of the seven countries in which the majority religion is Islam, this EO aims to block your entry. Legal scholars agreed that the EO was poorly executed and confusing – in an interview with Yale Daily News, Georgetown Law Professor and former Secretary of Health and Human Services Peter Edelman described the EO as wreaking “grossly incompetent havoc”. Students, professionals, workers, and family members were turned away at airports around the US – many of whom were permanent US residents.
While customs agents and lawyers scrambled to interpret the virtually unprecedented EO, the people of America, as they often do in times of crisis, stood up to defend our basic human rights in the face of injustice.
That evening, we quickly saw the emergence of individual citizens mobilizing and sitting in airports with signs demanding the release of the detained travelers. Volunteer immigration attorneys showed up in droves to offer free legal advice and services to the detained. At Sea-Tac airport, approximately 3,000 protesters converged throughout the airport and some were met with violence from Airport Police who utilized pepper spray. Nationally, more than 30 cities organized to protest Trump’s immigration policies.
On Tuesday, Chicago Tribune photographer (and Italian immigrant) Nuccio DiNuzzo shared on Twitter a photo of two fathers smiling and chatting while protesting the immigration ban at O’Hare International Airport with their children atop their shoulders. While the scene was likely similar to countless other interactions at airports around the country, this photo went viral and to date, has been shared over 16,000 times. One of the fathers, wearing a yarmulke, holds a sign that says “Jews Against The Ban.” The other father, his daughter wearing a hijab, holds a sign that says “Empathy.”
Like the unprecedented resistance and protest that President Trump’s first week in office has prompted, the simple photo provides hope and promise. A Muslim and a Jew – united against hate, their children laughing together, while a throng of people protest around them – promises that regardless of what Trump and his administration may have planned, a people united will never be defeated.