Protesters rally against Trump travel ban in Detroit

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — After weeks of waiting for a Supreme Court ruling on a travel ban from mostly Muslim countries, Mutia Nassar said he felt defeated Tuesday when he had to call his wife to say they wouldn't be reunited. 

Nassar, 23, who moved from Yemen to Dearborn with his family in 2001, said his wife was granted a visa on Oct. 31, 2016. Three months later, just weeks before she would depart the country to join her husband, whom she met on his visits home, President Donald Trump signed his first executive order on the travel ban. Yemen was on it. 

Imam Mohammad Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights said the court's decision furthers the alienation of people and their rights, and has a "profound effect" on citizens of the affected countries and their family.

"It's been almost two years and when I called her today, she was crying," said Nassar, who was at a rally in downtown Detroit to protest the High Court ruling. "I was 8 years old when my family came and I became a citizen ... I didn't think this would happen ..." 

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Nassar said his wife moved to Djibouti, which wasn't on the list of countries banned from entering the United States. She lived there for six months awaiting the move to the United States after restarting the visa process.

"I paid almost $1,000 a month for her to live in Djibouti, waiting all alone, then we couldn't afford it and she had to go back to Yemen," Nassar said. Now, Nassar said, he worries about going to Yemen because he may not be able to return to the U.S. 

Nassar was among about 50 others at the rally Tuesday in Campus Martius, where immigrant activists and others turned out to express their anger and dismay over the ruling. 

The 5-4 Supreme Court decision rejected critics' arguments that the ban discriminated against Muslims or that Trump exceeded his executive authority. The ban places travel restrictions on the nationals of eight countries — Chad, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen, predominantly Muslim countries. 

The #StandWithMuslims rally was hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Michigan and representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union and other activist groups. 

"The Supreme Court's decision today opens the door for bolder administrative action by the Trump administration that would further discriminate against ethnic and religious groups, said Nabih Ayad, an Arab American Civil Rights League founding member and legal counsel for the ACRL for the group's travel ban lawsuit.

"This ruling deviates from policies that prior administrations have worked diligently to foster and promote."

Many at the rally held signs featuring language of the First Amendment and chanted "No Muslim ban, no border wall, our city stands tall" and "Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's right."

Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit; Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, a Democratic candidate for Michigan governor; and former Detroit state representative and congressional candidate Rashida Tlaib also made appearances at the rally. 

"It's so unconstitutional.  Every attorney in this country knows this is wrong," Tlaib said. "I will not back down because my parents from Palestine did not teach me to stay silent when people say we don't belong ... Together, united, we are going to be able to fight back."

During a television interview Tlaib gave during the rally, two men sitting at the Fountain Detroit bar began yelling: "Trump America" behind Tlaib. Security guards removed the men from Campus Martius. 

Imam Mohammad Elahi of the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights said the court's decision furthers the alienation of people and their rights, and has a "profound effect" on citizens of the affected countries and their family. 

"Today, injustice, oppression and separation was served," said Elahi. "Silence doesn't protect us or our country ... what happened today was a win for ISIS. Trump awarded those terrorists because these countries on the ban are fighting ISIS and now they don't have America as an option for escape."

The ruling was a blow to Adel Mazip, 31, who was born in Yemen but came to Dearborn at age 13 when his father found an assembly line job at Ford Motor Co. in 1977. Mazip said he's still waiting for cousins who have been the processing phases since before Trump's first executive order.  

"It took seven years for me to get here, and my father and I had to do a DNA test to prove we were family ... that's how hard vetting was in 2000. It's impossible now," said Mozip. "My family has been processing since 2006 and now they're stuck in limbo, stranded in a country while the war is happening and their visas are transferred to Djibouti, who won't process them either. I talk to them often, but their in a desperate situation."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_