Matt Sugai ‘16 can compare President Donald Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration to their grandparents’ experiences in Japanese internment camps in World War II.
They urged students, especially Asian-American students, to not be complacent during a rally held in the Gizmo on Thursday, Feb. 9 to protest the executive orders.
“To those of you in the Asian-American community who are still on the fence about this because you don’t think any of this can happen again, and you don’t think that this could happen to you, take a look at U.S. history, and ask yourself again,” Sugai said in their speech.
Junior Carly Miller led the efforts to organize the protest after she was contacted by an Iranian friend living in America on a visa who told her that the movement “No One is Illegal” had planned several protests across the country for the following day.
She put together the rally, where a small group of students showed their solidarity with 53 other colleges and universities across the U.S. who were also protesting against Trump’s latest executive orders, which barred residents of seven countries from entering America. Twenty-five students rallied at the Gizmo and then marched through downtown Galesburg.
“What we want is people to get off Facebook and come show support, because it’s pretty heinous what’s happening to immigrants,” Miller said.
The rally in the Gizmo offered a place where students could take turns speaking their minds. Students already in the Gizmo turned toward the makeshift stage to watch and listen. Sophomore Maty Ortega opened with a poem they wrote at 3 a.m. the night before the event.
“I come from a family of immigrants, so this impacts a whole side of my family,” Ortega said, reiterating several of the themes from their poem, which warns Trump that walls and border bans won’t prevent immigration. “Put out your f***ing bans. Deport our beautiful people. But just know, none of that’s ever stopped us.”
Although the rally was held to address issues regarding the immigration ban on predominantly Muslim countries, several students discussed other topics related to immigration as a whole.
Speaking from a non-Muslim, immigrant background, senior Cynthia Saravia Bazoberry addressed her Latina roots and the presidency.
“I think the thing that has made me the most aware [of my Latina roots], unfortunately, is the presidency. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like more of an outsider anywhere. I don’t think I’ve feared because of my identity, and I’m worried and I’m frustrated,” Bazoberry said.
Bazoberry noted that she has limited avenues to “fight” issues concerning immigration because she is not a citizen. Now, she plans on attending more events to speak out about her concerns.
Following the speeches in the Gizmo, protesters marched through Galesburg, chanting and holding a sign that read: “No More Hate.”
Some drivers honked their horns or gave the protesters a thumbs-up as they passed by. But, not everyone who saw the march supported it.
A man outside Duffy’s on Cherry Street yelled, “We want Trump!” and “Get out, go home” at the protesters from across the street. Some marchers responded by chanting back, “Immigrant lives matter.”
The rally came less than two weeks after President Teresa Amott sent an email to the Knox community, which addressed the college’s stance on cooperation with law enforcement regarding undocumented students. Knox does not release information about a student’s immigration status unless required to do so by law, but has not labeled itself a sanctuary campus.
Junior Kevin Slayton said he would like to see Knox adopt the title, but that until then, community members can help protect those affected by the policies.
“We all as individuals can make the same commitment to be sanctuary people,” Slayton said. “All the language in those emails said that Knox will protect students unless compelled by law to not do so, and we can take it a step further than that.”