St. Louis activists continue to resist Trump’s travel and refugee ban
Al Neal/PW

ST. LOUIS – About 500 people converged outside of Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) office early yesterday afternoon, as resistance to President Trump’s travel ban continues to grow.

The afternoon’s protest was a direct response to Sen. Blunt’s recent statement of support for the President’s controversial executive order.

President Trump’s executive order suspends refugee admission for 120 days and bars all immigration for 90 days from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It indefinitely bans the processing of refugees from Syria.

On Saturday, federal judges blocked part of the order, finding that authorities could not remove individuals from the seven countries who had arrived in us airports after the order was issued.

But despite the court orders, some agents representing the Customs and Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshal Service have refused to obey the judges and have kept the detainees in custody.

Lawyers say this could create a dangerous precedent in which orders from the judicial branch of U.S. government can be tossed aside without consequence.

Attorneys volunteering to help those affected by the ban at Los Angeles International Aiport and Dulles International Airport, say they have been met with silence from agency officials when asking to have the multiple judges’ orders enforced.

In his statement, Blunt said, “He [President Trump] is doing what he told the American people he would do. I would not support a travel ban on Muslims; I do support increased vetting on people applying to travel from countries with extensive terrorist ties or activity. These seven countries meet that standard. Our top priority should be to keep Americans safe.”

As the Administration defends its actions, amid nationwide protests, President Trump has drawn the criticism of Democratic lawmakers, as well as senior Republican Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and others—including Trump’s own Department of Justice.

On Monday, acting Attorney General Sally Yates instructed DOJ staff not to enforce the President’s executive order. In her letter, Yates said:

“At the present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities [ensuring the positions the DOJ takes in court remain consistent with this institutions solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right], nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”

Within a few hours, President Trump fired Ms. Yates, replacing her with Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who will serve until Congress votes to confirm Trump’s nominee for the permanent post, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Outside of Blunt’s office, protestors marched, clapped, and chanted; taking over various parts of the street’s intersections; while receiving much support from motorists as the lunch hour rush began.

When asked by the People’s World why these protests are important, retired union worker Kevin Fitzgerald said, “it’s important because all of this is connected.”

“We started as a nation of immigrants and we were all immigrants, so their fight is our fight. Just like the fight for women’s rights, union rights, and healthcare rights are our fight, too!”

At 1:30pm, protestors took over the street, blocking all traffic while a small delegation of constituents went in to speak with Sen. Blunt’s staff about how immoral and harmful the executive order is for the nation.

The action came to a peaceful close at 2pm Feb. 1st.


Al Neal
Al Neal

Award winning journalist Al Neal is PW associate editor for labor and politics. He is also the chief photographer for People's World. He is a member of the Chicago News Guild, Society of Professional Journalists, Professional Photographers of America, National Sports Media Association, and The Ernest Brooks Foundation.