When I woke up on Sunday, I had planned to have an easy morning filled with coffee and pancakes and by noon — a shopping trip to a nearby mall. As I was cooking and cleaning up my house, I went on Facebook to check on the status of the immigration ban. It wasn’t until late Saturday night that I learned of protests in airports across the United States. They were protesting the immigration ban signed by Donald Trump that banned refugees from entering the U.S., especially those from 7 majority-Muslim countries. The ban also affected green card holders and legal residents from entering the country again. Many people had been detained in airports on Sunday and were not allowed to enter the U.S. or were sent back to other countries. Sunday morning, I learned that parts of the immigration ban had been blocked by a federal judge in New York and another in Virginia and that many of the airports had released detainees from the night before — but not DFW Airport.
As I live in Dallas, this definitely caught my interest. I went to a local Facebook group and learned that the protests hadn’t ended on Saturday night at DFW and were still continuing on Sunday. By this time, I was eating my pancakes and drinking coffee as I read the news. I’m a little ashamed to say that I didn’t immediately jump up and get dressed and run to the airport. There was, however, a battle going on in my mind.
But you had planned to go shopping…
But there’s people who need your voice at DFW airport…
But these detainees could benefit from your voice…
But DFW Airport is so far away…
But if you don’t go, you’re going to regret it. You know your shopping excuses are shitty and you need to be where the action is, helping your fellow humans. This is what you wanted, right? To get out and help this country of yours? Well, there’s a big need for you and it’s right in your backyard. Get your shit together and go.
If you follow Fempotential’s social media, I’m sure you already know that I went to the protest, and I’m so happy I did. I may have waged an internal battle in my mind for 30 minutes but by the end of it all, I did the right thing. It’s somewhat embarrassing to share these thoughts but I think it’s important to know — for those of you who internally battle between what’s convenient and doing the right thing — that you are not alone, and I hope one day, you realize that doing the right thing is the better option as we currently have the privilege to even have this internal battle, where others do not.
When I arrived there was a pretty good crowd but it soon doubled and tripled within the next two hours. People of all faiths and races were there. The signs were amazing! Everyone was kind to each other, passing out snacks and drinks every few minutes. I couldn’t help but smile at the children there with their families, witnessing the kindness of strangers there to help support 9 detainees who were being held for the “crime” of being born in a different country (although one was an American citizen).
I went to the bathroom and came across a group of Girl Scouts there to pass out free cookies that people had donated money for them to bring. I filled out a post card that a group offered to send for free to my congressman. I came across a huge area filled with pizza, Krispy Kremes, cookies, snacks, water, gatorade, and other food and drink for all to take. There were even kids creating signs that you could hold up if you hadn’t brought your own!
I mean, this was amazing.
But I think my favorite part was the singing of “This Land is My Land.” Our voices rose together in harmony and you could just feel it in the air — we were going to beat this. We were going to make a change. And we were not going to let a president destroy the beauty that is our country.
You see, I do not come from a family of recent immigrants, but we are immigrants. Yes, people assume that my dad’s from Mexico but he’s not. He’s Mexican American and was born in Texas. For that matter, his parents were born in the U.S. too. It was his grandparents, my great-grandparents that immigrated here from Mexico. On the other hand, my mom’s side of the family are immigrants too. We have less of a clear understanding of when they arrived, but we believe it was from England. And being there at the immigration ban protest, I was reminded that I am proud to be an immigrant in this beautiful nation, no matter how long ago my family came here. There were signs that referred to the Holocaust and when we denied entry to Jews escaping the terror of Nazi Germany just as many Syrians are escaping the terror in their country today. My great grandfather on my father’s side was a WWII prisoner of war in Nazi Germany — he didn’t fight or suffer for such a thing like that to happen again.
Later on Sunday, I learned that the protests at DFW did make an impact. All 9 detainees were released, reunited with family, and were greeted by the Dallas mayor who offered his apologies for how they were treated and reminded them that the immigration ban is not reflective of the Dallas community. Protesting worked. It worked. It helped these 9 individuals. Unfortunately, we are not completely in the clear. Reports show that people are still being detained at DFW and other airports. We will closely follow the ACLU and other law firms who are fighting this immigration ban, as we are all too ready to organize once again for our fellow sisters and brothers. The immigration ban will now proceed to court hearings where it will hopefully be completely overturned.
Yes, going shopping would have been so much easier to do on Sunday than protesting, but it would have been far less rewarding. And if this entire experience has taught me anything it’s that I want life to be easier for me, immigrants, Muslims, Americans, and all humans in the future. But to do that, I must do some hard things, things that may seem scary at first, things that are troubling, or out of my way, but the end result, will be so worth it. Because the end result is peace and freedom and justice for all.
There are tons of other ways to offer support besides just protesting:
For one, donate now to the ACLU. They are fighting all discriminatory actions by President Trump, including the immigration ban and the fight at Standing Rock. VC announced that they will do $20,000 matches for donations to ACLU. They are at the front lines of helping the detainees get released and they need our support now more than ever.
Also, use your money wisely by supporting businesses who took a stand and gave back during the immigration ban environment this weekend:
You can support Lyft, who is donating $1 million to the ACLU to fight the immigration ban.
Airbnb is also doing their part by help refugees deterred by the immigration ban by offering free housing. Support their business by signing up today (and getting a discount on your first stay).
Starbucks announced that they will hire 10,000 refugees — amazing!
Doordash also provided donated food to lawyers and advocates this weekend and are a good company to support.
Other companies you may want to support who spoke out against the immigration ban can be found here.