"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
So says the quotation inscribed inside the Statue of Liberty, located in New York’s harbour.
As protests against Donald Trump’s travel ban on people from seven largely Muslim countries, have grown in size and scale, the words Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, have served as a symbolic backdrop. On Sunday, the Statue of Liberty served a literal backdrop as protesters gathered in New York’s Battery Park and marched their way northwards, carrying banners and delivering charts. “No wall, no ban”, “No hate, no fear. Refugees are welcome here”, and many about Mr Trump perhaps not entirely suitable for family reading.
“I’m here because I’m mad. It’s an embarrassment to the country. We need to have more of these protests, I need to stand up,” Marc Rosenberg, who works for a start-up in Brooklyn, told The Independent as he carried a sign that read ‘May I remind you it does not say RSVP on the Statue of Liberty’.
Another marcher, Asma Amin, a 27-year-old student who moved to the US from Chittagong, Bangladesh, six years ago, said she had emigrated for the freedoms and opportunities that the US had provided.
“When I came here, I felt really safe,” she said. “But now I feel frightened.”
One after another, the protesters in New York spelled out in the clearest terms, why they were taking part. America was a nation of immigrants, they said, and nowhere better exemplified that reality than New York City. Here, in a city of 10m people, anywhere up to one-third of residents were born outside of the US. Some reports suggest this dense, intense sprawl, is home to up to 800 different languages.
People of different faiths, varying ethnicities, income groups, and political outlooks, all rubbed along together. They even supported different, rival sports teams. That was the vision of America, an idealism that frequently fell short, that protesters were trying to protect, and one they believed Mr Trump was threatening to destroy.
The protests in New York – which are continuing this week – were mirrored in cities such as Los Angeles, Boston, San Diego, Chicago, Dallas and even Kansas City, where campaigners took up positions outside airports, informing new arrivals that they were welcome - despite what message they may be hearing from the White House.
“I’m very happy at what is happening in this country. The liar-in-chief is doing this because he is desperate for attention," said Evelyn England, a student from Brooklyn.
For six decades, Ellis Island, located in New York harbour, close to the Statue of Liberty, was the busiest gateway for new arrivals - the first successive waves of Irish, Poles, Italians, Swedes, Germans. Between 1892 until 1954, it is estimated that anywhere up to 12m people passed through the immigration station located there.
In 2014, 1.3m foreign-born individuals moved to the United States, an 11 per cent increase from 2013. India was the leading country of origin for new immigrants, with 147,500 arriving in 2014, followed by China with 131,800, Mexico with 130,000, Canada with 41,200, and the Philippines with 40,500.
Today, most new immigrants arrive by air – at airports in Texas, Los Angeles, Illinois, and of course, New York.
On Saturday night, with more than dozen people still detained inside the terminal, up to 1,000 protesters demonstrated outside Terminal Four of New York’s JFK Airport. Protesters blocked the entry and exit doors of the terminal and at times, police pushed back protesters they believed were getting in the way.
Yosre Ghaled, 25, was among about a dozen distraught people waiting at an airport terminal Saturday to see if loved ones would be released, or put back on an outgoing plane.
Her mother-in-law’s sister, a 67-year-old Yemeni citizen coming to live with family in the US because she is sick from heart problems and diabetes, was detained after getting off a plane from Saudi Arabia.
“We’re very sad. She lives a very bad life. We try in her last days to (give her) a good life,” Ms Ghaled told the AP.
One protester at JFK, a woman who asked to be identified simply as Lucy, said she had come to protest, to let the world know what was happening.
“It’s important to call congressional and senate leaders and put pressure on them,” she said.
Griffen Gill, a 21-year-old student, said that that a lot of people may have voted for Mr Trump without expecting that he would enforce the ban. “I don’t think he has any ideology. He was just hungry for power,” he said.
Nicholas Iossa, said: “I’ve come to represent American values. We have to that this back.”
Some time around 9.30pm, it was announced that a federal judge in Brooklyn, had ordered a temporary stay on Mr Trump’s Executive Order. At the airport, a loud cheer went up.
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