Facebook: Paula J Kampf
Councilman Brian Cummins speaks to protesters at Hopkins Sunday afternoon.
President Trump signed an executive order Friday that instituted a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
The order suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and blocks Syrian refugees indefinitely. It was the most immediately impactful (that is: enforced) executive order that Trump signed during his freewheeling first week in office.
This action was met with what has become a familiar strain of opposition. In Cleveland, hundreds of protesters — by some counts, more than 1,000 — convened at Hopkins International Airport Sunday afternoon to stand in solidarity with immigrant communities and to condemn the actions of the President, whom they regard (almost to a person) as a xenophobe and a fascist.
City Councilman Brian Cummins represents Ward 14 — primarily the Clark-Fulton, Stockyards and Brooklyn Centre neighborhoods. He attended Sunday’s rally, he said, due in part to a personal connection. Not only has Cummins been instrumental in the creation of the “International Village” neighborhood in Clark-Fulton, he has also been helping a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo since he moved to Cummins’ street a few years ago, a man named Mayele Ngemba
“Refugees’ stories, they’re incredible,” Cummins told Scene by phone on Monday. “It takes these families a tremendous amount of time to get here. These are sometimes five, seven-year odysseys.”
Cummins was joined at Hopkins by Councilmen Zack Reed and Kerry McCormack. He said the protest was “really rocking” by 2:30 p.m., and that it weaved through multiple airport areas: from arrivals to baggage to departures.
“I’ve been to a lot of events like this,” Cummins said, “and given the lack of advance timing, it was incredible how many people showed up. I think that speaks to how important this issue is.”
Paula Kampf, who helped coordinate the event as part of The Cleveland Resistance Community Against the Trump Administration
, a Facebook group, said she’s encouraged by the hunger she sees in people wanting to organize and engage. Leaping at those opportunities will be ever more crucial after what she called Trump’s “tragic” first week in office.
“Xenophobia must not go unchallenged. The fear-based mischaracterization of what it means to be a refugee or immigrant to our country—our city—seeks to make all of us complicit in an agenda completely contrary to American values,” Kampf wrote in a statement to Scene. “Our local battle cries of "All in" and "Rally together" are taking on new significance as we stand together for each other's basic humanity here in Cleveland. I want the world to see that it's no longer "Cleveland against the world"; it's Cleveland WITH the world.”
City and state elected leaders — with the striking absence of Mayor Frank Jackson — have roundly condemned Trump’s order. Both Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman came out in opposition to the ban when a 26-year-old Cleveland Clinic resident and Sudanese citizen Suha Abushamma was sent to Saudi Arabia
after landing in the U.S., due to the ban.
Sherrod Brown, on Twitter, called the decision to block Abushamma’s entry “cruel, foolish and out of step with American values.”
“Turning away doctors here to learn and help people does not make America safer,” he said.
Governor John Kasich, too, called out Trump’s ban on Sunday. He said it was neither well thought-out nor well-constructed.
“Proper coordination with implementing agencies and our allies was missing,” Kasich said, in a statement. “This order should be replaced with a more thoughtful approach consistent with our values.”
Closer to home, County Executive Armond Budish issued a statement saying that Trump’s executive order “must be stopped.” He echoed the chosen metaphor of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who, in a statement Friday, said that there were tears in the eyes of the Statue of Liberty.
“Lady Liberty is crying,” Budish said in his own statement Monday morning
. “I call upon President Trump to immediately lift this shameful ban and to work on stronger vetting...as appropriate.”
As of Monday afternoon, City Council attorneys were drafting legislation to be introduced at Monday evening’s meeting to officially denounce the ban.
Cummins told Scene that public statements in opposition might seem toothless or, but that there’s not much more municipalities can do.
“This is primarily a Federal matter,” Cummins said. “I think I might talk to the new airport director about making the international arrivals area more accommodating at Hopkins, but relative to the ban, I’m encouraging people to reach out to our congressional leaders to let them know we oppose this, that refugees and immigrants are vitally important to our cities.”
Cummins said he has explored the idea of introducing sanctuary city legislation in Cleveland, but wasn’t being met with what he called “ardent support.”
“It doesn’t look like we’re being aggressive at all on that,” he said