More than 300 hundred people gathered in support of immigrants and Muslim refugees.
By Bismarck D. Andino
Posters were everywhere, high enough to be seen by spectators at Main Plaza.
“No Trump, no KKK, no facetious U.S.A,” “No ban, no wall” and “Together we’re stronger,” a screaming crowd stood for two hours Sunday in front of San Fernando Cathedral in response to Trump’s executive orders on immigration and the Muslim ban.
Elected officials, city leaders, students and parents stressed that refugees are welcome here and that freedom of religion is the foundation of this country.
Rep. Diego M. Bernal, District 123, said the city he knows and cares about is the city that welcomes and embraces everybody, and that his office is working to connect people with immigration attorneys and law firms with individuals who may be filing lawsuits.
“You are not alone, we’re standing with you doing whatever we can to make sure that you are protected so that you get to have a dignified life here,” Bernal said.
“We are advising the City Council and the Legislature about what we think is legal and illegal about the executive actions, and also about other possible legislations that are filed in Austin,” he said.
Bernal also said people should reach out to state representatives and demand meetings for real face time, which he believes would help their situation.
“Protest — use social media to inform neighbors, friend and colleagues — you can’t ever do too much. Do it all, and then do it again,” he said.
Sarwat Hussain, president of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said President Trump is breaking up families, tax-paying citizens whose money helps fund this government, and she demands an equal representation.
“This is not only a Muslim community, this is also an American-Muslim community,” Hussain said. “We have to fight for it. If it’s us today, tomorrow could be somebody else. This man wants to turn America into a white supremacist country.”
Hussain and 708 other Muslims will visit the state Capitol this week to talk to lawmakers about education, healthcare, jobs and economy issues that affect everyone.
She also urged American-Muslims attending this college to seek help from an attorney from the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services to learn about their rights and to be prepared for what to do in case the government decides to go after them. For more information, call a RAICES representative at 210-226-7722.
“Get involved. Stop living in fear and in isolation, get to know the rest of the community, be active in school, city and everywhere,” she said.
More than 300 people attended this event, which was announced Saturday on Facebook by MOVE San Antonio (Mobilize. Organize. Vote. Empower), a non-profit organization dedicated to give youth a voice in politics.
- Drew Galloway, UTSA graduate and MOVE executive director, said the organization does voter education, registration and engagement across San Antonio for 13 campuses.
“Over the last week, we heard across every campus that students are anxious, nervous and worry about things that are happening at a federal and state level,” Galloway said.
“We wanted a mechanism to put all those voices together and show them that as a group — as a generation — we are extremely powerful,” he said.
Alyssa Pope, UTSA graduate and MOVE field organizer, said this event is the result of the requests they received for the past two weeks regarding the executive orders and what that means for immigrants in this city.
“There was a lot of push to create something like this, and we thought that we should get this going and use this power that is clearly building up in San Antonio,” Pope said.
This organization started at the University of Texas at San Antonio about three years ago, where they organized events to inform students and get them engaged in community issues, she said.
Pope also said the organization has worked with professors and with the student government at this college on National Voter Registration Day last year.
“For that day, we had the fourth largest voter registration in the country because we partnered with all the colleges in San Antonio as well as all the student governments and student organizations,” she said.
MOVE is planning to do more voter registration drives with this college, this time for the upcoming municipal race, which Pope believes young people don’t know about.
“We are working every single day to register as many students as possible for this May election, and to get them involved with local politicians and candidates so they can learn about this election,” Galloway said. “Ultimately, have them show candidates what matters to them.”
Galloway also believes young people will play an important role in the May election because voter turnouts are low and their access to politicians is great.
On the other hand, Galloway said the organization is always looking for volunteers and encourages students and the community to support the cause. Whether it is women’s rights, gay rights or religious freedom, volunteers will be connected with whatever issues they most care about.
For more information, call Galloway at 210-396-0845 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.