Amid frigid temperatures and occasional flurries, about 200 people gathered in the Loop Monday to say the United States should offer immigrants a warm welcome.
“Todos somos America” — “We are all America” — was the rallying cry from Estela Vara, one of the speakers at the protest, organized by Indivisible Chicago.
“A wall cannot separate us,” Vara, an undocumented Latino immigrant and member of the West Suburban Action Project (PASO), told the Federal Plaza crowd.
The rally, which also included U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, was a response to President Donald Trump’s Friday declaration of a national emergency to fund his border wall. The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, PASO and American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois sponsored the event.
“I would like to ask the Trump administration, what the words ‘terrorist’ ‘drug trafficker’ and ‘criminal’ actually mean,” Vara said to cheers from the crowd. “Us immigrants — who are called criminals — are the ones who clean your houses, make manufacturing companies rich with our bodies and labor, and build your bridges.”
Garcia called for Illinois to join other states in filing lawsuits to undo the “phony” national emergency at the border.
“The only crisis at the border is children and mothers seeking political asylum,” said Garcia, one of 19 House Democrats — and the only one from Illinois — to vote “no” on the spending bill, which allocated $1.4 billion to Trump’s border wall.
“We are calling on the Illinois congressional delegation to focus on conducting strong oversight of the Department of Homeland Security and enacting legislation that will protect immigration, keep families together, and stop the erosion of the true American values that we have always welcomed immigrants into our country,” said Erika Bachner, a member of Indivisible Chicago, during the rally.
The group responded to speakers by chanting “Abolish ICE.” Following the rally, dozens of the protestors marched to Trump Tower to continue the rally.
Several states and organizations have filed lawsuits directly against the national emergency, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and advocacy group Public Citizen.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul joined the lawsuit led by Becerra Feb. 19, challenging President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency and his attempt to divert funding appropriated by Congress for other purposes, which it called “unconstitutional” and “unlawful.”
Within 24 hours after Monday’s rally, the ACLU also filed a lawsuit from a U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
“Donald Trump was not elected to be a king, he cannot be a king and we must stop that from ever happening,” Yohnka told the crowd Monday. “President Trump, we will see you in court.”