New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged demonstrators at a “Rally for Refugees” in lower Manhattan on Sunday to continue speaking out against President Donald Trump’s efforts to ban the entry of Syrian refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
“Executive orders don’t hold us back,” de Blasio told the crowd gathered at Battery Park, referring to Trump’s order on immigration, which has since been struck down by a federal appellate court.
Huddled under umbrellas as sleet and rain poured down, rows of rally-goers cheered as de Blasio and other elected officials, all Democrats, criticized Trump’s stance toward immigrants and refugees.
“An attack on refugees is an attack on all of us,” de Blasio told the crowd.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota), who is the first Muslim elected to Congress, told the audience: “If you want an America with liberty and justice for all, you better be ready to fight for it.”
The rally was organized by HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit that advocates on behalf of refugees, and a coalition of other local Jewish organizations.
Many in the crowd of adults and children held signs stating, “My People Were Refugees Too,” and Statue of Liberty torches made out of construction paper.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer drew parallels between current anti-refugee rhetoric and the past experience of Jews looking to flee Nazi strongholds.
“What we are witnessing in this administration is something our people know all too well, Stringer said, citing parents and grandparents “who were turned away from this country.”
“We say to our refugees ‘come one, come all,’ and we say to Donald Trump, ‘Get out of the way,’ ” Stringer said.
Public Advocate Letitia James told the crowd they were sending a message to Trump that “the Statue of Liberty will not be erased.”
The White House Press Office did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Trump, a Republican, has defended his executive order banning the entry of travelers from the seven countries, casting it as a counterterrorism effort.