The afternoon of June 26 saw hundreds of activists and protesters gathered together at multiple events in the heart of downtown Seattle to denounce the cruel, xenophobic and Islamophobic immigration policies of the Trump Administration.
One demonstration, held in front of the William K. Nakamura federal courthouse, was called by the Council on American Islamic Relations in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Trump’s ban on travel to and from seven countries, including five with a majority Muslim population, deemed to be hostile to the United States. The ban is widely recognized as an attempt to prevent Muslims from entering the U.S., in fulfillment of his explicit campaign promise to do so.
Speakers included CAIR Civil Rights Director Jasmin Samy and Muslim Association of Puget Sound-American Muslim Empowerment Network Executive Director Aneelah Afzali, as well as representatives from a variety of other organizations. All drew parallels between the thinly veiled racism underlying the Muslim ban and the long history of such racist acts of legislation in the United States. Speakers reminded the audience of the internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II, the Chinese Exclusion Act and the ongoing racist attacks on the rights of immigrants that have characterized U.S. immigration policy and experience.
Just a few blocks away activists and friends rallied at the privately owned building that houses the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) court to support local activist Maru Mora-Villalpando in her struggle against deportation. Mora, herself a prominent activist in the fight against the for-profit Northwest Detention Center and a powerful voice for the rights of undocumented people living in the U.S., had been targeted for deportation by ICE after her undocumented status was voluntarily disclosed to federal authorities by the Washington Department of Licensing.
Mora won a significant victory against ICE and deportation by securing an extension of her case reaching into early 2019. During this time she will be able to begin the process of applying for legal residency after her daughter Josefina turns 21 in August and is able to sponsor her mother. This decision represents a significant step back for ICE in their apparent effort to make her an example for other activists by prosecuting a model member of society, thereby establishing a precedent for the deportation of an undocumented human rights activist in spite of solid legal grounds for continued residence and a spotless criminal record. Where ICE had no doubt hoped for a quick victory, Maru Mora-Villalpando and the people who rallied to her defense have forced them to prepare for a drawn out fight- and the very real possibility that they may lose.
Following this news, the crowd took to the streets with Mora at their head to make the short march to the Federal Courthouse to join with those already gathered there at the CAIR rally against the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Muslim ban. The presence of both contingents carried a powerful message. That message, that these two fights are not separate struggles but only two different manifestations of the same struggle against white supremacy and the power structures that enable and support it, resonated through downtown as the cheering crowd chanted “No hate! No Fear! Immigrants are welcome here!”