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BY DENNIS LYNCH
With America’s most enduring symbol of immigration as a backdrop, more than 10,000 people crowded The Battery to protest President Trump’s controversial immigration ban on Sunday, capping a weekend of demonstrations around the country against Trump’s measure.
Many of the protesters were sporting foam Statue of Liberty hats they bought from vendors — who’s usual customers are out-of-towners on their way from The Battery to see Lady Liberty — and at least one demonstrator’s sign quoted Emma Lazarus’ famous poem inscribed on the statue’s pedestal: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses… send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
That sentiment stands in stark contrast to the executive orders Trump signed on Friday that suspended all refugee immigration for 120 days, indefinitely prohibits Syrian refugees from entering the country, and initially banned anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the country, including those with permanent resident, or green card, status. The administration altered the latter provision and to allow green card holders to be vetted on a case-by-case basis.
The crowd chanted “no hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!” and “no ban, no wall!” — a message many bore on signs and banners.
Several Democratic elected officials attended the rally — including Mayor de Blasio, Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Joe Crowley, Carolyn Maloney, Adriano Espaillat, Hakeem Jeffries, and Jerrold Nadler — joined by other city officials and activist leaders.
Schumer vowed that he would “not rest until these horrible orders are repealed,” and credited Saturday’s protests at John F. Kennedy airport with helping ease restrictions on some visa holders, which allowed dozens of people being held there to enter the country. But he warned the work was not over.
“We have made progress for 42 [visa holders],” Schumer said, “but we have to make progress for thousands, and tens of thousands more, and hundreds of thousands more.”
Schumer, who as Senate Minority Leader is the most powerful political opponent Trump has in Washington, received a lukewarm welcome from the crowd, in part because he has supported some of the president’s less controversial cabinet nominees. Some demonstrators chanted “oppose the nominees” following his speech.
After the rally the crowd marched north to the Civic Center to demonstrate in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at 26 Federal Plaza.
The American Civil Liberties Union won a victory over the weekend when it challenged the executive order in a Brooklyn federal court and U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly ruled in its favor. Donnelly’s ruling stayed the executive order to block immigration officials from sending people detained in U.S. airports back to the countries they left, although it does not overrule the ban in its entirety, and some visa-holders remain detained.
Later on Sunday, Rep. Maloney asked a House committee to investigate “how the executive order banning and restricting immigration signed on Friday came to fruition,” according to a press release. Maloney wants to know what federal agencies the Trump administration consulted and what legal analysis the Justice Department used to justify the order, among other legal questions.