Sizable horde protests inequality, ICE raids, travel ban bigly
■ Halima Haider / Editorial Assistant
One controversial Executive Order signed into law after the next, each “alternative fact” to follow every lilt of lies, the Trump administration never ceases to get hit with backlash from global angry mobs at every corner. No presidential administration in the history of the United States, has ever been received with protests and demonstrations on American soil in such high volume. Amid the ongoing and impending conflict of interest and outrage, one thing is for certain: Trump sure makes America protest again.
Following the historic Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21––the largest protest in American history to date––thousands walked out of their respective workplace on Friday, Feb. 17, to participate in the “Day without Immigrants” rally, and the impromptu rally held Saturday, Feb. 18, to protest immigration injustice as per Executive Order 13769.
Under Executive Order 13769, an absolute travel ban of immigrants and non-immigrants alike from seven Islamic nations effective Jan. 27, additionally enforcing mass deportation of all illegals with “criminal” history. ICE raids are rampant and in full effect. The indication of what makes someone a criminal is anyone’s guess, and comes as no surprise, fuzzy, and is being bent to better suit Trump’s populist agenda. And the agenda is quite clear: To cleanse the United States of its ethnic debris in a malicious attempt to make America white again; to make America retreat on women’s rights, immigration rights, and healthcare rights again; to perpetuate patriarchy, racism and corporate greed like never before again; to reinforce Islamophobia more vehemently than ever again.
In fellowship with San Diego’s Solidarity with Immigrants Rally via Rise Up California, Democrats of the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley held a triumphant demonstration on Saturday which began at the Hemet Democratic Headquarters located at 503-1/2 E. Florida Ave. leading to the City Hall building with upwards of 60 multiethnic people in attendance. The protesters –– which included (but were not limited to) Latinos, children, hijab-donning women, self-proclaimed WASPs and LGBT folk –– say they rallied in solidarity to peacefully resist and march not just for immigration rights, but for human rights.
“I’ve lived in the San Jacinto Valley for 33 years and I’ve seen the racism and the hate that exists within our communities,” said Jennifer Hinchliff, Hemet Democratic Club member and Dist. 67 Assembly District Delegate. “I work with immigrants and have friends who are immigrants and they are all terrified. I’m here today to rally and speak because I’m white, which sadly means I have the privilege to say something here and it is wrong if I just sit here and not make my voice heard during these trying times under the watchful eyes of the draconian and fascist Trump administration.”
With all 60-plus marchers in tow, the teeming rally started at 11 a.m. and continued well until 1 p.m. Multiple grassroots advocates took to the podium at the City Hall parking lot speaking on the topics of citizens rights, immigration rights, and the importance of voting and uniting to resist and protest peacefully. Gay rights activist and Vice President of the Hemet Democratic Club, Ernesto Ascencio Gomez, shared his experience as an undocumented immigrant becoming a citizen as a gay Latino man. Joey Aszterbaum, District 67 assembly district delegate and chair of the Democratic Action Group, a newly-formed ad hoc committee of the Democrats of Hemet-San Jacinto, led the group in belting out multiple empowering speeches and chants.
“People don’t understand how hard it is to become a legal American resident and citizen,” said Gomez. “It took my family seven years to become legal residents. During that process my father was deported. My mother was the only one making money with seven kids. We were living in constant fear.” Throughout the rally crowds chanted “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA” “Si Se Puede” “Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like! This Is What Democracy Looks Like!” among other popular ones.
Signs held up by the throng of marchers yielded honks hurled their way from passing cars in support of the rally and its cause. The otherwise unvoiced solidarity of the silent majority sheds a harsh light on the disheartening reality of just how many people in the San Jacinto Valley, and America at large, are afraid to speak up in fear of ICE raids, deportation, and plain and simple discrimination.
Signs read from the likes of: “California Republic: Sanctuary State, Cities, Schools!!! (No Nazis),” “Immigrant Rights Are Human Rights,” “They Tried To Bury Us But Didn’t Know We Were Seeds,” “Mexicans Are Hard Working People!,” “No Human Is Illegal,” “Immigrants, We Get The Job Done,” “Deport Rupert Murdoch,” “Build Bridges Not Walls,” “Repeal Patriarchy, Replace With Equality,” “Break ICE Not Families,” “Immigrants Make America Great,”and “Christ Was An Alien In Egypt.”
Trump’s Executive Order 13769 states that it: “Protects the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Section 3(c) of said Order has blocked the entry of not just “aliens” but green card holders, valid visa holders and American citizens alike, trampling rights and harming immigrants, refugees and American families — all in violation of the constitutional and legal rights of the nation’s inhabitants. The seven banned Islamic countries are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. Additionally, Trump has promised to deport up to 3 million “criminal” undocumented workers. The Executive Order also expanded the categories of undocumented immigrants that the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those who have not been convicted of a crime. The order also strips federal money from “sanctuary cities,” which offer protection to undocumented workers.
On Feb. 9 alone, ICE detained more than 160 individuals during raids. Recent captures consist of 680 undocumented immigrants whom represent 0.7 percent of all those targeted for deportation. Nearly 940,000 others remain undetained.
According to one statement, from South Carolina to Colorado, at least 80 workers who abstained from their jobs on Feb. 16 were fired for marching at the “Day Without Immigrants” rally. In Denver, at least 30 people employed by JVS Masonry were fired, even after telling their boss they would miss work to support the demonstrations but would make up for it two days later. Restaurants and day cares were among the businesses in such states as Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New York where bosses fired workers who chose to participate in the protest.
NBC4 reported that in Nolensville, Tennessee, nearly 20 employees of commercial painting company Bradley Coatings, Inc. were laid off for the same reason. According to a recent statistic, California’s labor force includes about 1.85 million undocumented immigrants—the second-highest statewide share of undocumented workers (9.4 percent) in the nation.
Democrats of Hemet and San Jacinto are urging city departments, higher education institutions, local businesses and charitable organizations to provide shelter and sustenance for DACA families relocating and integrating into communities in the valley. Marie McDonald, president of the Hemet Democratic Club, has set forth an agenda to organize monthly, if not weekly, classes welcoming all walks of life to get free education on their rights as inhabitants of the Free World as citizens, immigrants, and even undocumented individuals.
Could the onslaught of “Anti-Trump” rallies mark the beginning of an era of peaceful resistance? Sure. An era of unity in a way never before thought of? Absolutely. “United we stand, divided we fall” still seems a collective mantra for many. Hope for a progressive future still stands. Breaking up families, subjugating minority groups, building walls and pipelines is not the America that makes us great. Greatness lies in diplomacy. Greatness lies in compassion. Greatness is in unification, not division. Greatness is in diversity not bigotry. Greatness is offering chances to Dreamers so that they may covet and acquire the ever lauded and highly achievable American Dream. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said in his famous speech, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” May it manifest and emerge from the ashes of our democracy through the atrocity that is Trumpocolypse.
To make your voice heard and become an active member of the Hemet Democratic Club visit the Hemet Democratic Headquarters located at 530 ½ E. Florida Ave.