Holding a banner that read “#NoBanNoWall” in English, Spanish, Somali, Farsi, and Arabic, student organizers took turns denouncing the ban and the proposed wall, leading the assembled crowds in chants of “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” as Department of Public Safety officers looked on.
Mustapha Ibrahim, a freshman from Somalia, held a sign that read “I Just Got Banned!” Wiping tears from his eyes as he spoke to the crowd, Ibrahim said to cheers that he was “proud to be Somalian […] and proud to be an immigrant.”
“I want to bring what makes America great back home,” he said, adding that he may now be prevented from doing so.
Sophomore Haydi Torres shared her family’s immigrant story, announcing that she was “undocumented and unafraid.”
Torres, who came to the U.S. from Honduras when she was 16, is a part of UR DREAMers, a group on campus that seeks to educate other students on the realities of undocumented life and immigration law.
Anis Kallel, a senior from Tunisia, walked up the stairs outside Wilson Commons as one of several speakers from the crowd.
“My country, Tunisia, isn’t yet on the list, but this ban definitely made me consider all possible outcomes,” he said during a later interview. “I constantly check the news and expect the worst.”
Though he says he “feels targeted” by the executive order, Kallel thinks that it’s “refreshing to see people united behind a good cause and willing to fight for what’s right.”
Following a move into Hirst Lounge to continue the rally, the crowd walked through Wallis Hall, where, according to Melissa Holloway, an organizer and Take 5 student, “staff members were actually chanting with us and taking videos of us.”
Though “there are currently no plans for future rallies,” Holloway, said, “we are working on putting together UndocuAlly trainings and events of the like” (referring to an educational program that teaches students how to advocate for undocumented classmates).
The rally finished inside the Interfaith Chapel, where a University panel fielded questions from students, faculty, and Rochester residents on how the ban will affect the campus international community.