Dozens of students took their concerns over President Trump’s executive order on immigration to Sen. Roy Blunt’s office in Springfield this morning.
About 60 participated in the demonstration, many from Missouri State University, carrying signs in opposition to Trump’s temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
One of the protesters, MSU alumnus Andy Sun, said it shouldn’t be about politics, but human beings.
“The Muslim Ban and a lot of the other executive orders happened this past week have been affecting our human rights,” Sun said. “Just because it doesn’t personally affect me, it doesn’t mean it’s not an issue for our country.”
Signs held in front of Blunt’s office read, among others, “In Solidarity with Refugees,” “Immigrants are Welcome Here” and “They are not Dangerous, They are in Danger.” A fraction of the demonstrators entered the Republican Senator’s office to formally address their concerns. Caleb Hearon, the student organizer of the event, reminded protesters to be “quick and polite.”
Dante, who did not give his last name, said his wife is first generation Iranian and the executive order signed Friday by President Trump has her concerned.
“Her dad happens to be Iranian, and that would be held against her. She’s in school to be a primary care doctor to make sure that we take care of the indigent and the uninsured. She might leave the country on vacation and not be able to come back…So because of that, I can’t be supportive of what the government is doing,” he said.
A spokesman at Blunt’s office on East Sunshine stated the senator was not in favor of a Muslim ban. Over the weekend, Blunt issued a statement saying he would not support a travel ban on Muslims; but does “support increased vetting on people applying to travel from countries with extensive terrorist ties or activity.”
Suzanne Shaw, MSU’s vice president of marketing and communications, told KSMU that there are nine international students who are from one or more of the seven countries are affected by the executive order.
“We are meeting with them one on one to discuss this situation, answer questions, provide any support they might need,” Shaw said.
Shaw said given the fluidity of the situation - at least four federal judges across the country have blocked part of the order - the school has taken no further action.
Meanwhile, Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and the Springfield NAACP branch coordinated rallies Monday afternoon in opposition of Sen. Jeff Sessions nomination as Attorney General and to Steve Bannon’s presence in the White House. The groups delivered interfaith prayers, speeches and songs at the offices of Senators Blunt and Claire McCaskill, as well as Congressmen Billy Long.
Each lawmaker was asked to “Speak out against the lies that are being used to divide and distract the people of your district and the American public, to speak out against the lies that are being used to legitimize unjust, immoral, un-American policy decisions that are poorly planned and inadequately vetted, and ultimately making Americans here and abroad less safe. Case in point the current Muslim Ban.”
The groups also asked Senators Blunt and McCaskill to oppose Sessions at attorney general. “We agree with the over a thousand law professors from all states with law schools that, ”Jeff Sessions will not fairly enforce our nation’s laws and promote justice and equality in the United States.” We also agree with the NAACP 'Furthermore, as a U.S. Senator, he has consistently opposed many of the very crucial laws and programs for which he will be responsible for enforcing at the US Department of Justice.' We also object to his close relationship with Bannon."
Emails to both senators’ offices requesting comment were not immediately returned.
Springfield Welcome Home, a non-profit that helps newly arrived refugees, is hosting another protest from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Tuesday at the corner of National Avenue and Sunshine Street.