History’s repeated silence was disrupted by the rallying cries in East City Park Saturday as protesters stood by their immigrant community members.
Palouse ProActive nonprofit hosted the rally, “Beyond the Ban: Stand with Immigrants” to oppose President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning the immigrants of seven countries from entering the U.S.
Trump’s mandate banned all students, faculty, tourists, immigrants and refugees from entering the U.S. if they were from Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iran or Iraq.
At the event, Kate Evans, University of Idaho associate professor of law, said 60,000 visas were revoked and individuals were then detained in U.S. airports.
“I know that the United States has a long, dark history of racism, of discrimination, of anti-immigrant nativism, of bigotry,” said Ken Faunce, Idaho Human Rights Commission chair. “This is not the first time this has happened — not even close.”
Speaking to the crowd, he said the U.S. has banned many Asians, Latinos, Jewish and European immigrants. The past few weeks have been dark with more to come from political oppressors, Faunce said.
“They want to overwhelm us,” he said. “We have to stand together, close support so as not to be overwhelmed and divided.”
Faunce said it is time to not accept this subjugation and to fight against such discrimination.
“I think we’ve all heard that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it again,” said Founder of Palouse UPstanders Hannah Krauss.
Americans were once immigrants coming into this country, and U.S. citizens don’t have to worry about being in a war zone, Krauss said.
“We can love who we want, we can worship how we wish all, because our ancestors came to America,” Krauss said.
Shirin Shahsavand, an Iranian student from Washington State University, spoke at the event and said there are about 300 students and faculty from the seven banned countries in Moscow and Pullman alone. Shahsavand said she wanted to thank WSU and UI for standing alongside their international students.
“I want to start by talking about who the real immigrants are,” Shahsavand said. “They work hard … they contribute to U.S. economy. They are contributing every day.”
Shahsavand said immigrants from banned countries have won medals for science, arts and medicine here. She said many pay their taxes and fight in the army — contributing more than some people in the White House.
“I turned on the news and I saw people — American or not — showing up at the airports to support their immigrant brothers and sisters, to support refugee families,” Shahsavand said.
Evans said Trump’s administration has loosened its coils on its executive order, allowing more immigrants into the U.S. She said this is because of political protests and local courts limiting such mandates.
Shahsavand said she was told that speaking at this rally would have its consequences, but she decided to participate anyway.
“If speaking up for my immigrants and refugee brothers and sisters is something that’s going to get me into trouble then let it be,” Shahsavand said. “We will not stand quiet. I stand with you.”
Catherine Keenan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ckeeneye