Winta, from Eritrea, and Thania, a 'dreamer' from Honduras
Winta, from Eritrea, and Thania, a 'dreamer' from Honduras Amber Cortes

Last night, thousands gathered at an emergency rally in Westlake Center to protest Trump’s executive order temporarily banning citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries (and all refugees), from entering the United States; Syrian refugees are banned indefinitely. This latest mobilization came on the heels of a spur-of-the-moment demonstration at Sea-Tac airport the night before.

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The scene at Westlake was a sea of hundreds of signs held by protestors, and waves of chanting and applause as Governor Jay Inslee and Mayor Ed Murray took the stage to join other speakers at the rally. As it spilled out into the streets, pockets of mini-demonstrations erupted on corners, in front of Starbucks, and elsewhere: the energy was palpable, spirited, and urgent.

We spoke to some people at the protest—citizens, immigrants, and dreamers alike—about why they thought it was important to show up and oppose the ban.

Susana and her mother, Rosalva, drove from Ellensburg
Susana and her mother, Rosalva, drove from Ellensburg Amber Cortes

Susana and Rosalva, mother and daughter (Ellensburg)

Why are you here today?

Susana: We were watching TV at home and we just thought: this is the best place to be instead of just griping and whining, let’s drive to Seattle and stand with all our other immigrant friends and refugees, and take a stand for what's right.

You drove all the way here from Ellensburg! How does it feel to be here?

Rosalva: Great. I feel alive!

Susana: I feel connected to the rest of humanity in a way that I just couldn't in my living room. So I feel like we're all here for one purpose. We're both immigrants, my mother and I, we were undocumented immigrants from Mexico and we were able to gain residency, and now citizenship, and so we feel like it's our responsibility to stand here because others can't. But we feel connected. I feel connected, to every person here!

You brought your dog!

Susana: Yes, she's about seven or eight years old, and she's a rescue. So we've been staying on the periphery because it's really crowded. I don't want her to get trampled. She’s doing good. She just wants love! She wants someone to pet her. That's her cause.

Elizabeth and Tony with their flag
Elizabeth and Tony with their flag Amber Cortes

Elizabeth (Capitol Hill), and Tony (Bothell)

You hauled this American flag all the way out here for the protest and you’ve been standing in front of Starbucks holding it pretty much all night. Why?

Elizabeth: I think it's important to remember that what Trump is doing is not representative of America, and this is not what America is all about. So we want to show up and protest but still…

Tony: Remind folks, remind Americans that this is about America, and the Constitution. And we want to keep America the way it has been, which is a place that is free for immigrants to come here and enjoy this country.

How does this rally compare to the Womxn’s March from last week?

Tony: I mean this one is more targeted to a specific issue. The other one was about issues all across the board, which was also good. And I don't know, it’s a little bit more rowdy here, because it's night time, which is a good thing. It’s different kind of energy.

Elizabeth: When I when I first heard the news on Friday night I felt so shocked and angry and really just impotent, and coming out and feeling the energy at this march, and hearing about the courts and the checks and balances possibly working, I think that's been inspirational. I can only hope that the rest of the executive order also gets rolled back.

Tony: Exactly. Permanently.

Is this your flag? What will you do with it after the rally?

Elizabeth: It's my flag. I guess I’m going to just keep it for general...flag purposes. You know, Fourth of July and what not.

Winta, from Eritrea, and Thania, a 'dreamer' from Honduras
Winta, from Eritrea, and Thania, a 'dreamer' from Honduras Amber Cortes

Thania, (U District) and Winta, (Everett)

Why are you here today?

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Thania: It doesn’t make sense to try to repel a nation full of immigrants when this nation was built off of immigrants. We do all the dirty work that Americans do not want to do. I'm sorry, but that's the truth! We know that movie, Hidden Figures? It's like, immigrants are the hidden faces of this country: you don't know what we're really doing, because we're doing all the labor behind walls. That's what happens.

Winta: No human is illegal. Being here is not a crime. It's not! Just because you're an immigrant, it's not a crime, so it's not illegal.

How’s the protest going so far?

Winta: It is actually great! This was my first one, so, yes, it is a great one. I'm glad I'm here. And I expect to be going to more. I've been saying, this is something I believe in. I came from a family that are all immigrants—me myself, I am an immigrant, I'm from Eritrea.

Thania: I'm from Honduras and I'm a dreamer. And because I'm a dreamer, Trump is trying to have it so dreamers cannot renew their work permits, and that puts us at risk for deportation. If he does push forward with reinforcing these immigration laws, all the undocumented immigrants that came forward to apply for DACA, well now he has all of our information, and that puts us at extreme risk. They can find out where we live, and all that kind of stuff.

Are you doing anything to prepare?

Thania: Yeah actually, me and my family are going to go to a lawyer and see what we can do about maybe starting a process for either residency or citizenship. But of course, it's a really hard time to do anything like that.