Emergency Town Hall meeting draws hundreds
By Alex Woodliff, Staff Writer
The community of Dearborn, Michigan came together Feb. 1 at the Ford Community & Performing Arts Center in a mix of fear and hope against the executive order issued Friday, Jan. 27, by President Donald Trump. Signed at 4:42 P.M, the order has been highly acidic with not just the United States, but also the world at large. The event entitled “Now is the time to Resist: Emergency Town Hall” was put together by the Arabic American Museum of Dearborn, Take on Hate, ACCESS and The American Civil Liberties Union. Worried citizens were not just from Dearborn or Michigan. Others came from as close as Livonia, Michigan to as far as Toledo, Ohio.
During his campaign, Trump repeatedly called it a “Muslim ban.” Now Trumps administration has been backtracking on that saying it is an immigration hold.
“It is an atrocity. An absolute infringement on basic human rights.” said Mary Maret of Detroit. “These people carry on about being anti-abortion. But anti-abortion has to do with these refugees!”
The speakers on the panel included Attorney Noel J. Saleh, University of Detroit Mercy Law associate professor Khaled Beydoun and Abed Ayoub, Legal & Policy Director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Saleh opened the event with exhaust evident in his voice. “It has been a hard couple of weeks…I also know this will go on for some time.”
The meeting began approximately at 6:15 p.m. to a crowd much larger than originally anticipated. It was not just the Middle Eastern community in attendance; members of all ethnicities and gender were present. Some came in solidarity others came in concern for themselves or loved ones. Fearing that their respective communities might be on the receiving end of one of Trump’s policies.
“It is much worse now in comparison to 9-11.” a somber Saleh told the crowd of hundreds packed into the auditorium. Most, not just the Muslim community but other minority communities agreed with his statement. In fact according to CNN in a report by the FBI, hate crimes against Muslims has increased by 67 percent. Similar acts have also increased against the Jewish, Latino, African-American and LGBT communities in the weeks since the election.
Many Democratic politicians, not just the public, have questioned the legality of the order. Some say that it not only goes against the core values of America, others say it goes against the Constitution as well.
A question and answer portion was held in the last hour of the event. Those who feared coming up to the mic were allowed to have someone speak on their behalf after writing their questions on index cards. The fear was related to possibly doing something that could identify them as being an immigrant or refugee.
A lot of the evening touched upon what was happening to immigrants who have a Green Card or were in the midst of becoming citizens. Many of those with valid Visas have been stopped and held by customs and border patrol agents. One woman in the audience spoke to the crowd about how she and her family were stopped by agents on the U.S side of Canada. They were forced to unlock their phones to allow agents to check for anything anti-Trump. According to Ayoub, some stopped at airports have been forced to give up their green cards. “Citizenship will not protect me, it will not protect you.” said Saleh. Both the speakers and the audience also realized that this ban would affect Latinos as well.
“This is not about the security of our nation, but the insecurity of a single individual.” said Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee. The Congressman from Flint was special guest of the event. Making a passionate speech before having to head back to Washington that night. The night ended with a note from all onstage and in the audience realizing that this is not just an attack on the Muslim community but people of color as a whole in the United States.