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Hundreds of Protesters Greet Vice President Mike Pence to Decry Tax, Immigration Policy

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Kevin Fitzpatrick
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WAER News

Over 300 protesters met outside of the Embassy Suites near Destiny USA Tuesday to decry the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence.  He stopped in Syracuse  for a $1,000 per plate fundraiser for the reelection campaign of Republican Congressman John Katko.

Tom Drumm is a protest organizer and member of Speak Out CNY.   He says the protestors represented an array of organizations and causes, but all feel that Katko and his colleagues need to do more to rein in the Trump administration.

"We have people who are passionate about tax policy.  Everybody is fired up about kids getting separated at the border.  That's become one of the larger issues being discussed.  We have the LGBTQ community here speaking out against the vice president.  It shows a broad coalition of people that are going to hold the representatives accountable”      

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Credit Kevin Fitzpatrick / WAER News
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WAER News

Protesters stood across the street from the hotel and boo’d as Pence’s motorcade pulled in.  Central on the minds of many of the protestors was the Trump Administration’s “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy, which is responsible for the practice of separating undocumented families.  Nagesh Rao felt compelled to act after photos began to surface documenting the conditions of children held at ICE detainment centers.

“ I'm an immigrant myself.  I'm a parent.  I have a two-year-old.  It just breaks my heart to  hear all these stories, read these stories, see these images of those children two years old, four years old, 15 years old put in cages.”   

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Credit Kevin Fitzpatrick / WAER News
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WAER News

Another organizer and member of CNY Solidarity Coalition Tom Keck says that the consequences of the “Zero Tolerance” policy are felt even here in New York State.

“ICE agents have been entering our farms in Wayne County  in search of undocumented immigrants.  It's for sure horrible what's happening at the southern border with children being  forcibly stripped away from their parents.   But families right here in Central New York are being separated as well.”              

Congressman Katko said in a statement Monday that border security must be maintained “in a humane way that preserves family unity and keeps children safe.”

After the vice president’s arrival at the hotel, protesters gathered on both sides of Hiawatha Boulevard, where their signs were met with honks and shouts of both approval and criticism from passing cars.  

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Credit Kevin Fitzpatrick / WAER News
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WAER News

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.