Hundreds of New Yorkers rallied against US president Donald Trump’s immigration ban outside of Borough Hall in Brooklyn on Feb. 2. The rally capped a day of quiet protest, in which Yemeni-American bodega owners closed their shops across the city.
Bodegas are the traditional corner store in most New York City neighborhoods, and a large portion of are run by Yemeni immigrants. Yemen is one of the seven countries directly targeted by President Trump’s executive order banning immigrants and refugees from traveling to the US. The other countries named in the ban are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya.
“This is not justice for us,” said Shaif Abushr, a Yemeni-American and owner of an electronics store. “We’re here to defend our family and other people.”
Protesters chanted in English and Arabic as they waved American and Yemeni flags in equal measure. Many Yemeni-Americans have family back in Yemen, which is one of the reasons why the ban is so painful.
Protestor Mohammed Aljahmi has been living in the US for six years, and has been waiting to reunite with his wife and child, who live in Yemen. Their travel visas to the US were nearly ready, but the travel ban has complicated matters. “There’s a war back in Yemen,” he says. “They’re not safe.
For many in the crowd, the future is uncertain.
“My grandmother has cancer,” said Fatima Mohammed, a high school student. “My greatest fear is that I won’t be able to visit her in the future.”
“We are not accepting this unconstitutional order,” said Muaad Alody, a Yemeni-American student at the City College of New York.
“We’re here to stand up for everyone.”
“I built these buildings.”
“We’re here to defend our family and other people.”
“Everyone comes from immigrant descent. That’s what we’re trying to show.”