WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Thousands of protesters flooded into a park across from the White House on Sunday afternoon, carrying colorful signs and chanting slogans against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugee resettlement.
The event, organized and shared largely through Facebook, was part of a second day of nationwide protests in response to Trump’s order, which he announced Friday. After gathering near the White House, a portion of the crowd broke into an impromptu march, heading east toward the Capitol. Hundreds of protesters streamed past empty bleachers still standing from Trump’s inauguration parade earlier this month and stopped at the Trump International Hotel, where demonstrators led cheers.
“No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here,” chanted a crowd from the steps of the hotel.
Trump’s executive order barred all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and suspended the Syrian refugee program indefinitely. The measure also halted the entry of nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries into the U.S. for the next 90 days, restrictions that have led critics to claim the policy is intended to discriminate against Muslims specifically.
“We wanted to represent and stand up for what’s right,” said Manar al-Badarneh, a Palestinian-American college student who traveled with her family from Columbia, Maryland, to join the Washington demonstration. “We believe this is wrong. As Muslim Americans, we were born and raised here, we find it ridiculous what’s happening.”
Many in the crowd continued down Pennsylvania Avenue, passing the Newseum on their way to the Capitol.
Trump’s order has sparked mass confusion, as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents detained a number of green card holders at airports, with many unable to speak to lawyers. Demonstrators and lawyers have been camped out at international airports around the country, offering resources and support to incoming passengers who they fear may be turned away.
Federal judges issued rulings late Saturday that stopped parts of Trump’s executive order from taking effect and clarified the right of legal U.S. residents to counsel ― though some are still reportedly being denied access to attorneys. This was little consolation to the protesters who came out in force on Sunday, in opposition to what critics have branded Trump’s “Muslim ban.”
Alan Henderson, 42, from New York City, said he came to Washington last weekend with his Iranian wife to join the Women’s March on Washington, and he was surprised to have to return to D.C. for a second protest. He said he’s concerned that Trump’s immigration ban would keep his wife from being able to visit her relatives in Iran. Henderson didn’t know whether protesting was going to accomplish anything, but he hopes it “puts the heat” on Republicans in Congress to oppose Trump’s actions.
“We should all be embarrassed by this,” he said. “Jesus would be embarrassed by it. It’s the opposite of what America and Christianity are supposed to be about.”
Other protesters wondered aloud if Trump could hear their chants from inside the White House. Their voices were likely competing with the sounds of the Disney Pixar film “Finding Dory,” which Trump spent his Sunday watching.
Laura Bassett contributed reporting.