Groups Protest Trump's Immigration Positions Across The Country | KERA News

Groups Protest Trump's Immigration Positions Across The Country

Jan 14, 2017
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The inauguration is next week, of course, when Donald Trump takes the oath of office to serve as the 45th president of the United States. People are coming from all over the country to celebrate that event as well as to protest it. For example, a women's march is planned for a week from today on the National Mall, but protesters aren't waiting for next week. Today, busloads of people came to an historic black church to protest the president-elect's hard-line immigration positions. It was one of many planned protests by immigration rights activists in dozens of cities nationwide. NPR's Brakkton Booker was at Metropolitan AME Church, and he joins us now in our studios in Washington, D.C. Brakkton, thanks so much for joining us.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Thanks for having me.

MARTIN: So set the scene for us. What was the rally like today?

BOOKER: Look, there were buses and buses of people that got dropped off in front of Metropolitan AME Church. They came from as far as New York and North Carolina, even closer from Maryland and Virginia. Parents came with their children. You saw people holding signs in English and in Spanish. A lot of the signs said things like, this is the only country we know, and (speaking Spanish), or immigration reform now. Let me give you just a sampling of what it sounded like outside the church.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: The people united.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Will never be defeated.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: (Chanting in Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting in Spanish).

BOOKER: And the church was at capacity, overflow crowd. They even had a small group that was - that couldn't get in and were protesting around the church.

MARTIN: Well, what were you hearing from some of the people who were there?

BOOKER: Well, I heard a range of things, but most notably the biggest message was we are here to stay. And this was echoed by Julio Lopez. He's a state director of Make the Road Connecticut. And here's what he said.

JULIO LOPEZ: You know, one of the things that we want to convey in our communities is that we are strong and we are united. Like, there has been a lot of rhetoric of hate and a lot of fear in our communities, and we think this is a time to come together. This is a time to make sure we show our faces and to make sure that people understand that we're not going anywhere, that we're going to fight and we're going to continue doing what we need to do to get the dignity and respect we need and deserve.

BOOKER: And that fear he was talking about was the repeal of DACA. This is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. It's an executive order that was implemented by President Obama in 2012 that shielded immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. And President-elect Trump has signaled that this is something that he's willing to repeal.

MARTIN: Well, you know, speaking of President-elect Trump, why have these rallies today while President Obama is still in office - why not hold these rallies once President-elect Trump actually takes office?

BOOKER: Well, that was an interesting question I posed to some of the organizers. And they said, yes, this is really setting the tone for the next four years while President-elect Trump is in office. They want to show that, yes, we are a force to be reckoned with and you have to pay attention to us. But moreover, they also want to say that, hey, President Obama, we appreciate what you did with DACA, but you also have a reputation of being a deporter-in-chief. You have deported some 2 million people during your time in office, so while the goal is to actually have comprehensive immigration reform, it didn't come about under President Obama's watch. So they wanted to have the rally today.

MARTIN: Well, that's Brakkton Booker. He's a reporter with NPR's politics team. He was kind enough to join us in our studios in Washington, D.C. Brakkton, thanks so much for joining us.

BOOKER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.