New Yorkers condemned the Supreme Court’s vote to uphold President Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying the decision stands in direct opposition to the city’s values.
Thousands flocked to Foley Square Tuesday evening to protest the 5-4 decision and send a message to the world that they support immigrants who will be blocked from coming to the United States.
Carrying signs that read, “No ban, no wall, no raids, NY is for all” and chanting, “Muslims are welcome here,” attendees said the court’s decision moved the country backward.
Murad Awawdeh, of the New York Immigrant Coalition, one of the nonprofits that helped to organize the event, said the turnout would send a strong message.
“It’s really great to see our community, our New Yorkers, come out and show the true value of what our New York looks like, what our New York stands for,” he said. “It’s that we stand for the diversity of our communities and we stand for the rights of everyone who lives among us.”
The current version of the ban, announced in September, prohibits entry into the United States by most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Venezuela and North Korea also were targeted in the current policy, but those restrictions weren’t challenged in court.
The Supreme Court’s conservative judges held that the ban’s challengers failed to show it violated either U.S. immigration law or the Constitution’s First Amendment prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
As the night went on, more people gathered at the square to express their frustration over the court’s decision.
Susan Schneider, 70, of the Upper West Side, works at the Arab American Support Center in Brooklyn, and said many Yemeni families in the city are concerned because their relatives are stuck in places like Malaysia since they can’t enter the U.S.
“I think right now Trump is winning in his racist struggle against immigrants, and we’re all going to have to resist very hard,” she said.
Some protesters said they were afraid that the decision would set a precedent for xenophobic policies.
Shirin Barghi, 32, of Crown Heights, has dual British and Iranian citizenship, and said she’s concerned about her future.
“Every time I want to go abroad, my heart is shaking with fear about whether I can be let back into the country again,” she said.
Mary Seyda, 62, of Brooklyn, who held a sign depicting a crying Statue of Liberty, said she fears the Supreme Court will embolden Trump to make worse decisions against minorities.
“I feel that the damage that’s being done will take generations to repair,” she said.
Marchers made their way through downtown Manhattan to Battery Park, as bystanders cheered them on.
Rachel Crosby, 27, of the Bronx, said it was important to show up and tell those in power that New Yorkers do not stand for anti-immigrant policies.
“I think people deserve the right to be with their families and I think they deserve the right to flee persecution and violence,” she said.
City and state leaders echoed Crosby’s sentiment.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called the ban “institutionalized Islamophobia, promoted under the guise of national security,” and warned that it sent the wrong message to the world.
“With this decision, the highest court in the land has sent a message of exclusion and division across the globe,” he said in a statement.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo linked the ruling to previous court decisions that upheld discriminatory legislation and acts, such as Dred Scott v. Sandford.
“In New York, we believe our diversity is our greatest strength and we remember that unless we are Native American, we all came from someplace else,” he said in a statement.
Cuomo also announced his office would provide free legal help to anyone who is detained in the state on immigration charges at airports. The state’s Liberty Defense Project set up a hotline, 800-566-7636, where anyone can confidentially request assistance.