Why We Marched For Refugees
ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT symbols of Mormon temples is that of eternal families. After marching past the temple in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 4 and speaking with refugees and immigrants, without a doubt, family was the most powerful and prominent theme of their participation in the March For Refugees.
It's true – many participants who are not refugees or immigrants were there opposing President Donald Trump and all he stands for. But whether one agrees or disagrees with him, or the travel ban he issued (which, to the joy of all present, was blocked by a federal judge the day before the Salt Lake event), it's hard to argue with the primary purpose of the thousands who marched: a love for human life.
With the passionate chant "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!" still echoing through my head days after the fact, I recognize that my own thoughts carry little power over what the symbols and words of those present have to say.
Refugee family: "[Other people] don't know how [Trump's] decisions effect immigrants. We came to the US about 4 months ago, after being on the wait list for 4 years, before she was born. I don't think we are dangerous to you. We helped the us army when they came to Iraq. We were in danger and when we got the opportunity to come here, we applied. We were desperate and thought we would never make it here. We know more people are waiting in Iraq. [Trump] is the only president I hear about who wants to stop refugees. He's stopping the future of America. We are still afraid – we don't have a green card yet. We don't know if he will make more troubles for us to get it. We are very happy to see the people here to see refugees. We didn't expect Trump to win. The only thing we can do is protest."
Marchers: "Everyone should have a chance to live a normal, real, free life."
"It's common sense, basic, comes naturally to us."
"I don't want Homer Simpson in our white house."
"In one word, why are we here? Equality."
Immigrant with her children: "I am from Fiji. I immigrated in the 1960s. I support [the purpose of the march] because my family did. I am safe and happy. I want everyone else to be safe and happy."
Marcher: "I'm here because people matter and people's voices matter; so I'm marching for human rights."
Refugee Family: "Three months. Syria. Happy."
Marchers: "We are a country of refugees. If we let this happen we're going to end up with another holocaust."
"All the evidence shows this is only going to make the terrorism problem worse. You can't treat hate with hate. As Buddha has taught, treat all sentient beings with kindness even if they offend you."
Refugee: "I want to give my support to refugees cuz I am one. People won't understand if they're not refugees themselves. This is not just for the show. Try to understand the other side of the story. My family overseas in Liberia and Sierra Leon is also trying to come here. They're not banned, but the process of allowing refugees has been slowed down. Imagine losing your family connection. The ban is effecting the entire immigration movement. It's effecting immigrants as a whole."
Immigrant Family: "America is freedom land. We've lived here for 14 years – my family is happy here. We have jobs, a house. This president is confusing people. We have green cards and are permanent residents. When I learned the news of the ban, I had a lot of fear for my family: this march is for my family here and in Peru. I am afraid of leaving because I'm afraid I can't come back. In my country it's hard to find food, a home, schooling. I can even send help to my family in Peru because of my opportunities here."
Refugee: "I was born in a refugee camp in Kenya. We lived there in a tent for 11 years until we came to the US. You never knew when there would be a bomb or someone would come in to the camp — some would just come in and do violent things — they thought it was their country and they could do anything to us. Some women were raped. We lived in fear there, but here feels like home. It was a relief coming to America where we have freedom and safety."
Marcher: "I hope people don't get bored of doing this. If these [messages] are going to be effective during the Trump presidency, we need to make them a part of our daily life."
"The smiles on some of the refugees are astounding."
-Said by a marcher after reaching the stairs of the capitol.