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Government & Politics

Immigration-Ban Protesters in Akron Call for Building Bridges

Tim Rudell
Imam Ahmad Deeb leading opening prayer

About 120 protesters rallied in front of the Federal Building in downtown Akron Monday.  They condemned President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning all refugees and travel to the U.S. by citizens of some predominantly Muslim countries. 

At the request of a retired Christian pastor, Ahmad Deeb of the Islamic Society of Akron offered an opening prayer.

“Almighty God, give us the empathy to listen to those different than us, and hear their struggles. Almighty God, give us the strength to stand up for the dignity of all, and to build bridges where none are found.”  

Mayara Villarreal
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Mayara Villareal of Canton

One of those attending the rally, Kent State student Mayara Villarreal, says “I don’t believe its right to block people out of a country that was built on religious freedom.”

She was here with her father, brother and mother --Canton native Beth Villareal.

“We’re making a family thing out of this. My husband is from Mexico, and we completely support everything that everybody here is doing.”

mother of Mayara Villarreal
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Beth Morron Villarreal

Speakers called for solidarity with refugees and others affected by Trump's order and urged everyone to call their members of Congress. 

The Democratic members of Ohio's congressional delegation have all condemned the ban. Some Republicans have also questioned it. Sen. Rob Portman and Congressman Jim Renacci have raised questions about its implementation and Rep. Steve Stivers said it " risks violating our nation’s values and fails to differentiate mainstream Islamic partners from radical Islamic terrorists — setting back our fight against radical Islam." Rep. Bill Johnson has been among the most vocal supporters of the ban, saying it's needed to keep terrorists out of the country.

University of Akron law professors Carolyn Dessin and Phillip Jenkins

Asked if Congress-- or the courts—actually could curtail the presidential action, two law professors in the crowd, Carolyn Dessin and Phillip Jordan of the University of Akron law school, said probably not.

“The President will always argue that national security concerns can limit that.”

“We’ve just seen a few courts issuing injunctions against what they’re doing at the airports. But the president is pretty much at the height of his powers with respect to foreign affairs, so it’s not easy.”   

Executive order protesters
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Demonstrators march in downtown Akron

Following speeches, the group made its way along Main Street.