Detroit — Several hundred Yemeni-Americans gathered Friday in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Detroit to protest President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.
The protesters, who received a permit for the afternoon rally, blocked off the street in front of U.S. District Court. They waved American flags and carried banners that read “God Bless America” and “Justice For All.”
Protest organizer Ibrahim Aljahim said local Yemeni-Americans were angry that Trump, in an executive order, had included Yemen, in a list of countries whose residents cannot visit the U.S. The other countries are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Chad and North Korea.
“This country was built by immigrants,” he said. “Trump’s wife is an immigrant.”
He said the protest was held in front of the courthouse to show the group’s displeasure that no federal judge in Michigan has weighed in on the legality of Trump’s executive order.
Signs held by the crowd included photos of two federal judges, one in Maryland and one in Hawaii, who issued rulings last week that barred enforcement of the travel ban, in part or all of it.
Among several people who spoke at the demonstration, aided by a sound system, was Adel Alasad, vice president of the Yemeni American Chamber of Commerce, based in Dearborn.
Alasad told The Detroit News he didn’t understand why Yemen was included in the ban. No terrorism has been connected to the country, he said.
He said Yemenis have come to America and have become as assimilated as the Irish and Italians.
“We become doctors, lawyers and teachers,” he said. “I came here as a child. My children have grown up here. We’re part of the melting pot.”
Hamtramck City Councilman Mohammed Hassan also spoke at the protest. He said the ban doesn’t represent the views of the American people but only one person, Trump.
“It’s (supposed to be) government by the people. Trump doesn’t know this,” he said.
Other groups also were represented during the protest.
Omer Abdi Nur, a Detroit community activist who is a Somali-American, said millions of Muslims live in America, following the law and contributing to their communities.
“We are peaceful. Islam is love,” he said.
He drew a parallel with Hispanic-Americans, who also have drawn scrutiny from Trump. He said Muslim- and Hispanic-Americans hold some of the lowest-paying jobs in the U.S., but are happy to do the work.
In return, they receive scorn from the American president, said Nur.
“We want America to hear the voice of the people,” he said about the protest.
Speakers also criticized Trump’s plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.