Hundreds protest Trump immigration order at RI State House Sunday

Protesters gather at the State House for a rally against President Trump's refugee ban. (Kim Kalunian/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – More than 1,000 people attended a rally protesting President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration Sunday afternoon at the Rhode Island State House.

The event was organized by “Resist Hate RI” and started at 1 p.m. on the South Lawn of the State House. Local elected leaders like Governor Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline were among those in attendance.

“President Trump, we’re not going to back down!” Raimondo told the crowd. “The people of Rhode Island stand strong against your religious test and against the Muslim ban.”

The protest comes after Trump signed the executive order Friday, implementing a 90-day ban on citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Additionally, the order prohibits the admission of all refugees into the U.S. for the next 120 days.

The Trump administration said the list of countries — Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Libya — was originally drafted by the Obama administration under the Visa Waiver Program and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2015.

But at Sunday’s rally, the message was directed at Trump.

“We have a message for Mr. Trump,” said Elorza from the podium, “And that’s that America is already great, not in spite of our immigrants but because of our immigrants.”

Many immigrants and their descendants attended the rally, like Malak Elsayed, the daughter of Egyptian immigrants.

“The image that Trump is paining of all immigrants being criminals is really not true and I think that education is the most important factor right now and letting everybody know,” said Elsayed.

Stephanie Shaker is American-born, but a Muslim.

“It’s so important for me to be able to use my voice in any way that I can to come out and speak or protest or march or sign any petitions, do anything that I can, to try and help people get the rights that I’m lucky enough to have,” she said.

After the State House rally, organizers marched to Nathan Bishop Middle School on Sessions Street, where Senator Whitehouse held a community dinner to discuss “local and national issues” with constituents. Some said they wanted to protest Whitehouse’s vote to confirm President Trump’s choice to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Whitehouse addressed the crowd gathered outside at length, telling them at one point the U.S. Senate would be introducing a bill this week to oppose Trump’s so-called Muslim ban.

In a statement, Whitehouse said Mike Pompeo wouldn’t have been his choice to lead the CIA, but said Pompeo “can be a check on dangerous impulses from the Trump White House.”