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San Antonio Protesters Target Trump's Travel, Immigration Bans

On Sunday a crowd of 250 spontaneously turned out at downtown’s Main Plaza to protest President Donald Trump’s executive orders.  The orders ban refugees and foreign nationals from some Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The protesters chanted that “refugees are welcome here,” and waved signs that read “San Antonio Welcomes All” and “Immigrants are American.”   Rally organizers from the political group MoveOn.Org unfurled a banner that said, “Impeach Trump.”  

Tom Simmons carried a placard that said “Anti-Muslim Bigotry is Fascism.”

“I think it’s the start of it.  Once you start alienating one particular segment of society it just picks up and goes the route Germany went,” Simmons said.

Credit Shelley Kofler / Texas Public Radio
Texas Public Radio
Four-year old Sophia Reidinger joined the protest rally.

There are an estimated 30,000 Muslims in San Antonio, but fewer than two dozen attended the rally.  Sarwat Husain, president of the San Antonio office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said fear kept many Muslims away.

“They are threatened every minute,” she said.  “And that keeps them away.”   

Habiba Noor said local Muslims have children and spouses who are now banned from entering the United States.

“I have an Iranian friend whose daughters are in Iran, who were just about to get their visas processed to come, but they cannot come.  Families are being separated.  There are hundreds of stories right now.”

Jack Morgan
Texas Public Radio

Many acknowledged the need to combat terrorism but Claudia Stokes, a Trinity University professor, said Islam isn’t the cause.

“All religious groups have radical wings.  White supremacy has produced a great deal of terrorism in this country,” Stokes said.  “I think it’s just a 'false equation' to blame Muslims.”

Some of the protesters say they are organizing and are prepared to fight President Trump’s implementation of campaign promises to limit immigration and build a border wall. 

Shelley Kofler is Texas Public Radio’s news director. She joined the San Antonio station in December 2014 and leads a growing staff that produces two weekly programs; a daily talk show, news features, reports and online content. Prior to TPR, Shelley served as the managing editor and news director at KERA in Dallas-Fort Worth, and the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.