President Donald Trump on January 25, through Executive Order, kept people residing in seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. This has sparked national debate among many people, especially those who have loved ones or people they know who are refugees residing in the countries.
The ban was met with outrage across the nation as protests in major cities and airports broke out the weekend following the ban and into the following week. In Minnesota there were protests at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, a community meeting hosted by State Representative Ilhan Omar, and in downtown Minneapolis at the Minneapolis Federal Building organized by the Anti-War Committee.
Amal Ali was among over 5,000 people who came out to the January 31 Federal Building protest. “It’s really heartening to see how many people showed up,” said Ali. “Everybody comes to the United States to start a new life, and to be an American, to get a chance to live the American Dream, and Trump is denying them this.”
The day before the ban, news of it was leaked to the media, which had many groups across the country go into planning a response. In the Twin Cities, the Anti-War Committee started to plan by meeting with people in the community.
“We didn’t know what form the ban was going to take,” said Jess Sundin, organizer with the Anti-War Committee. “We didn’t know [Trump] was going to ban a list of countires that had targeted our foreign policies, people with green cards, dual citizenships, people that were already on planes on the way here.” They were just one of the many groups who participated in protests.
In Minnesota many politicians are standing behind the Muslim and refugee communities. They responded by organizing a press conference where many politicians spoke out against the ban. Omar, who fled Somalia in 1995 and is the first Somali American elected official, has been very outspoken.
“It’s really disappointing to see our country fight against our own ideals as being a country that is welcome to anyone,” said Omar during an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “A lot of my constituents and Somali members of the community are confused and scared and are trying to make sense of what this means. They know that they go through an extreme vetting process to make their way here.
“I was just having a conversation yesterday with a friend of mine who lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota,” continued Omar. “His wife has been going through the process of relocation for three years in Somalia, and she just has gotten clearance to come here, and now he knows she won’t be able to come join him.
“We are allowing our country to divide families. This ban makes it hard for families that have done everything possible legally that they can do to be reunited with their families.”
Currently the ban is lifted after it was challenged in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Minnesota is among several states contesting the legitimacy of the ban. This challenge will most likely proceed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
When asked about what message they want people to take from this, Sundin said, “People have been watching with horror as people are being separated across the country. First and foremost, the communities that are going to be the target of Trumps attacks need to feel solidarity and support from the rest of us.
“The second is we have the right and the power to change the course of history,” continued Sundin. “Donald Trump is one man, he’s a bully, and right now he is using that pen like a sword.”
Chris Juhn welcomes readers’ responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Juhn is a contributing photographer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.