CORRECTION: An earlier version of the article misquoted Heather Redding. Reddi, thanked the crowd for coming out despite the rain and near freezing weather. ed with the correct quote. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
About 20 members of the advocacy groups Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action and Hillsborough Sanctuary Coalition gathered outside of the Old Orange County Courthouse on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s recent emergency declaration.
The president announced on Friday that he would be declaring a national emergency to redirect tax dollars toward national security and begin construction on a barrier along the southern United States border.
The “No Racist Wall Rally” brought the two Hillsborough groups together to protest the president’s actions, calling the move a “#FakeNationalEmergency.” Hillsborough Sanctuary Coalition advocates for the safety of all community members, regardless of nationality or immigration status.
Heather Redding, who organized the event with Hillsborough Sanctuary Coalition, thanked the crowd for coming out despite the rain and near freezing weather.
“Justice work must not stop when it’s cold and dreary,” Redding said. “Injustice occurs when it’s cold and dreary. We know that ICE grabs people and separates families when it’s cold and dreary. Racism happens, xenophobia happens, when it’s cold and dreary. Islamophobia happens when it’s cold and dreary.”
Hillsborough Board of Commissioners member Jenn Weaver assured the audience that there have been no changes in the Town and that they will work to keep everyone safe.
“Here in Hillsborough, everyone is welcome regardless of status,” Weaver said. “In January of 2017, every member of the Hillsborough town board, including the mayor, signed a letter to our community reminding everyone that you are all welcome here.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement only began after the 9/11 attacks, Weaver said, and only in recent years began focusing their attention on immigrants rather than Muslims.
“When ICE comes into communities, they come in the name of safety,” Weaver said. “But they’re not creating safety. They’re only instilling fear.”
Faisal Khan,the founder of the Carolina Peace Center, said the only national emergency is the rhetoric and policies that come from the White House.
“The real national emergency is that over 1,400 children that were separated from their parents are unaccounted (for) now,” said Khan. “The real national emergency is that our government, right now, their policies are targeting migrant communities and families in this country and at the border.”
Khan said he believes President Trump’s emergency declaration was untrue and that the president was ignoring a humanitarian crisis of family separation that should be treated with more compassion.
“We as a community, we as a nation must come together now, shoulder to shoulder, putting our differences aside,” Khan said. “We must come together peacefully and non-violently — support each other, support immigrants and support families in our neighborhood.”
J. Jay Kennett, the pastor of Hillsborough United Church of Christ and member of Hillsborough Sanctuary Coalition, spoke to the crowd from a religious standpoint.
“There’s no faith tradition that advocates for terrorizing your neighbors,” Kennett said. “In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the welcoming of immigrants has been a long-standing value.”
Kennett said the action of separating families goes against Christian values and that those who say otherwise are wrong.
“We do have a crisis,” Kennett said. “The crisis is that we are failing to take care of our nation. We must do better. We must be more humanitarian, more loving, more caring. We are indeed a country built on the value of welcoming each other.”
Redding said she hopes people will begin taking activism seriously and understand that they need to use their voices and physical presence to make a difference.
“People need to show up, people need to speak out, people need to take action,” she said. “It’s not enough to read and click ‘like’ on Facebook. We need to actually take measurable steps to protect immigrant communities and to reject ICE.”
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