Protestors and lawyers remain at OHare for third consecutive day
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Since Friday, protestors and lawyers have been gathered near the international gate at OHare to protest the detainment of 18 travelers. The majority of the travelers were since released, but the protests have not ceased even three days later.
“I think it’s important to be here because we’re a nation of immigrants. That’s what we started as. Unless you’re a native american, everyones a descendant of an immigrant,” protester, Scott Totzke said. “the idea that Trump wants to ban certain people, and there’s talk of a registry, and the wall, it’s not only plain unconstitutional. It’s just not the American spirit.”
Lawyers have been camped out at tables near the gate for the past three days, offering free legal help to anyone who might feel that they are being detained unfairly. Most, if not all, are working as volunteers.
“I work for a law firm that does a lot of pro bono work in the immigration area, so we have a lot of clients who are immigrants or refugees. I’ve met a lot of people who just don’t know what to do. They’re people who really need legal assistance and it’s something that we can provide,” Latham and Watkins lawyer, Katie Dunne said.
Another lawyer, felt that it was most important to be there for the families of those who were detained to make sure that they have all the resources they need. “It’s important to be here to help Americans who are being held back, who are unable to come out here. For the families that are waiting, we can help them and ask questions and try to get them legal help if needed, in case anything illegal is going on,” lawyer, Farhana Hafezi said.
As for the inspiration to come out and volunteer in this way, the lawyers had varying opinions. “To me, it’s a fundamental American question. My grandparents were immigrants, I think that’s true of a lot of people here. Once we turn away from that group of people, we’re in trouble. I think it’s a fundamental American value,” Dunne said.
The protestors who were on the scene weren’t necessarily offering as much physical support to the detainees and their families, but instead voicing their opinions for the larger overall cause. “I’m here to show that there’s not popular support for this kind of idea, there’s really solidarity in every community,” Dupage Progressives member, Ben McAdams said.
Some students support what the protestors are doing. “I understand the logic behind Trump’s thinking, but I think the way he’s implementing the idea is wrong. I get it, it’s fear, but the way he wants to stop those fears is only making it worse,” junior Catherine Spann said.
Not all students agree with the cause. “I believe in our right to protest, but I do see immigration from the Middle East as a threat to Western society. I don’t believe that ideology of Islam can coexist with Western ideals,” junior Iskander Ikhsanov said.
If we aren’t specifically opposed or in agreement of these new laws, it might seem hard to care about topics, or see how they directly affect us.
However, many of the protestors seemed to believe that simply being present at demonstrations like these was protecting all Americans’ rights, even those who aren’t directly affected by these policies.
“It’s easy to put the blinders on, it doesn’t affect me. It’s easy to blow it off like, ‘I’m not a foreign muslim from some country, I don’t really care,’ but before you know it, it could be you. It’s important to stand up for the rights of everybody,” Totzke said.
“For a democracy to work, you have to be involved,” McAdams said.
It would be unrealistic to believe that all students have the ability to participate in democracy through protests, but one of the easiest ways to participate is to stay informed.
“Even if it sounds crazy, trust the adults. If you have someone in your house and you see that he’s always informed, ask him what to read. Don’t go straight to the internet. It’s very hard to research and try to get it yourself and know exactly what to read and what you can trust. Ask the adults,” Univision reporter, Mariano Gielis said.
One of the lawyers felt that staying informed mostly came down to paying attention more often. “Read the news. Watch the news. Read the history books. Read!” Hafezi said.
Whether or not students can agree on immigration policy, these protestors seemed passionate about remaining informed, eager participants of democracy.