by Jingnan Huo
Hundreds of protesters against President Trump’s immigration ban gathered at the International Terminal 5 starting at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Amy Lecza and Gaby Camacho went separately to the protest and met on the CTA Blue Line. Lecza, 25, works in content marketing. She went to the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21 with a cousin, a co-worker and a friend. She booked the ticket to D.C. right after the election. “We were like ‘f*** this, we will go for a protest.’ We didn’t know that there’s going to be huge sister marches in Chicago. But I’m glad of what we did,” says Lecza.
Before the election in November, she had never been to protests because of safety concerns. “Honestly, I wish I had done it sooner.”
Gaby Camacho, 18, is a photographer and sculptor from Puerto Rico. Both her parents are activists. “I grew with the idea that if you do not agree with something that the government is doing, then you go out and you say it. You speak to people and hopefully they will make change. That’s why I’m here, I want to make change.” Camacho has refugee friends who are either trapped overseas or in the U.S. “I’m here to fight for my friends, to fight for people who have been through what they have been through.”
“I never thought that in my 60s, I will be protesting still. But I will protest. This guy makes Nixon an amateur.” A woman who declined to give her name said. “I am a boomer. I don’t give you my name because of principles I got from protests before. You never know who will find your name.”
Brenda Parker, 44, is a university professor. “I’m not here because of any individual person. I am at Unity Temple, we sponsor refugee families. But I don’t have a personal connection.”
“America is a country built on immigration. I think it’s important that we remain a beacon of hope in the world and that we stand for justice, and toleration and reason.”
“I think that when fear drives policies and decisions, we are not our best selves. It’s hope and love that make the best policies, that help communities.”
Mohamed Sharif (second on the right), 39, works in a shop. “I’m from Yemen. I am U.S. citizen but my wife holds a green card. She’s not able to go anywhere.” It’s the first time that Sharif went to a protest. “I feel bad because it affects a group of people because of religion.” Sharif also talked about the “hate and discrimination” he saw after the election. It didn’t “happen too much” to him personally, he said, “but I feel it.”
Ann Igoe, 38, who works for an SEIU healthcare union, is here with her husband Will, son John, and daughter Annie. They were here Saturday night as well. “Immigrants are attacked in this country. A strong resistance is going to send that message,” says Igoe. Cars passing by the protesting crowd honked loudly as she spoke. She doesn’t know anyone impacted by the legislation, “but we don’t know who’s gonna be next.”
“I live in Rogers Park, it’s an immigrant community, there are Syrians, Iranians in Rogers Park. I’m standing up for our neighbors, for our city. I work in a union with immigrant population that’s gonna be attacked.”
“If you don’t respect the lives of immigrants who die, you are not going to respect lives of people with disabilities either,” says Will Igoe. Their son, John, has autism. “We are standing out here, carrying kids, but people are coming out of Syria carrying kids, and are trying to go across on boats that could sink. We are turning our backs on them? That’s not American,” he says.
“I don’t want our country to be remembered by this,” says Ann Igoe.
“There’s more hostility and there’s more support,” says Mona Elgindy, talking about the political climate after the election.
Souzan Naser is an educator in a community college with “a huge Yemeni population.”
“A lot of them are going back for spring breaks, for summer breaks, and they should be advised of their rights before they make their travels. And for those who have families that are coming to visit them as well,” says Naser.