Today, I attended my first political rally.
I mean, well, I attended the last 10 minutes or so of a rally.
I was really, really late… for… reasons.
Anyway, I went. The rally was to protest the Trump administration's horrible immigration policies, specifically his decision last week to separate children from their families, which (understandably) sparked an international outcry, and which he then walked back, trying to appear magnanimous (didn’t work).
I wanted to go because I hate current immigration policy, and I hate even more that this administration has decided to stretch that policy to its most horrible extreme. I also went because last year I watched as Korea impeached a president who used her position to enrich herself and her friends. Impeachment came after months of sustained peaceful protest. I believe that will bring about change here.
Since I don’t know Boise all that well, I took someone’s suggestion to park at the mall and Uber to the rally. In the end, that wasn’t necessary as there seemed to be plenty of parking downtown. Even so, I’m glad I did it because I met my Uber driver. He saw my signs and that sparked a discussion about immigration. As it happens, he and his family came to America as refugees. He had a degree in English and had taught English in Iraq before fleeing to Syria where he applied for the refugee program. He is now a citizen, has a master’s degree, and had been teaching English to other refugees through a local program. He lost his job when Trump’s Muslim ban halted much of the refugee resettlement in the US. In discussing the Muslim ban, I said, “If you had tried to come now, you wouldn’t be able to, would you?” He said, “No, I wouldn’t.”
That’s why I went to the rally. Trump’s policies are preventing people from coming to the US who are seeking for safety and security, whether they were coming through the existing refugee program or whether they were seeking asylum at the border. These are not people who want to do us harm, but people who, generally speaking, want to get jobs and education and contribute to our country.
Over 200 years ago, my ancestors came to the United States in search of a better life. Some were looking for economic opportunities denied them in overcrowded European nations. Others were fleeing religious persecution. Over 150 years ago, my Mormon ancestors were refugees, fleeing religious persecution in Missouri and Illinois. They risked their own lives and those of their children to find a place of safety. Today’s immigrants seek the same things today. I believe we should help them find it.