About 2,000 demonstrators flooded into Lafayette Square in front of the White House on Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order that has prevented refugees from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the country.
Protests began Friday when Trump signed an executive order that banned refugees from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country for 120 days, and placed limits on the freedoms of immigrants from those countries.
Sunday’s protest came the day after protesters flocked to Dulles International Airport to protest the order and welcome people detained by the Department of Homeland Security on their way into the U.S.
Unlike earlier protests this week, which were vocalizing different concerns about Trump’s executive orders, most people at Sunday’s protest united around the opposition to Trump’s ban on refugees.
Many protesters, including Socorrito Baez-Page, attended protests like the Women’s March during the previous week. Page, who is Hispanic-American, said she spent about seven hours at various protests this week.
“Democracy and freedom is a job, and you have to take care of it, just like you take care of your children or you take care of your garden,” Page said. “You have to be vigilant.”
Chants varied from specific tirades against Trump and his administration, like “Fire Bannon” and “Hands too small, can’t build a wall,” to cheers for immigrants and refugees, like “Let them in.”
Cordelia Chansler, a protester from Dupont Circle, said that as a person from New Jersey who was directly affected by 9/11, she believes it is wrong for Trump to discriminate against a group of people based on the actions of a few.
“What he is doing will actually increase the potential for terrorist attacks as opposed to keeping us safe,” Chansler said. “I feel very strongly that he should not be allowed to get away with this.”
Many of the protestors said they felt that protesting alone was not enough to achieve change to the executive order and other Trump policies. Silvia Chou attended the Women’s March and said she had been calling Republican senators all week to encourage them not to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
“When I think back to where I come from, which is Taiwan, when they had martial laws when I was growing up, you really couldn’t feel safe speaking up,” Chou said. “My father would tell me, ‘You just have take care of your own family because what can you do.’ I would like to think that America is different.”
Though most protesters were from the D.C. area, some had first-hand experience with immigrating from other countries. Rachel Allen from the U.K. said she was part of a whole group of protesters that had never before taken to the streets in protest.
“I have a lot of friends who are Muslim-Americans and I am just here support them and to support democracy,” Allen said. “We are a democracy in America and the rule of law and due process is important.”