More than 70 people from numerous advocacy groups gathered Tuesday in downtown Syracuse to urge Congressmember John Katko to take a strong stance against racism.
The rally is in response to President Trump’s tweets directed at four congresswomen of color, and his immigration policies.
For the first ten minutes, the protesters held their signs in complete silence. Then, they made their voices heard…
"Say it loud, say it clear! Immigrants are welcome here!" they chanted.
Jessica Maxwell is with the Syracuse Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network. She says in the absence of action by elected officials, everyday people need to push back against harsh immigration policies, and seek justice for those impacted by them.
"Children are literally watching their mothers and their fathers walk into a building and never come out again. That is how the separation starts. We can be the support system to help people talk through their options, to decide: Do I seek sanctuary? Do I speak out to the media? Do I bring the press in with me to one of my ICE appointments? Will that help my family? Will that hurt my chances?"
The group also called out Congressmember katko for not speaking out against the President’s racist rhetoric. Jonah Minkoff-Zern is with Public Citizen.
"On scapegoating immigrants, scapegoating people of color, as a way of building his power, we see that as a threat to our democracy. When John Katko stands silent to that, when he refuses to stand up to Trump when he targets these four women of color in Congress with words that would get him fired from any major corporation...we condemn him."
In fact, Katko DID speak out. In a tweet, he called the president’s tweets "unequivocally wrong and below the office he holds," adding that criticism should focus on policy. In a tweet the next day, Katko defended his vote against a resolution that condemned the president’s remarks, saying it was "the latest in a string of meaningless votes to score political points."