This President’s Day was for some a day of protest, as demonstrators in Philadelphia and cities across the country accused President Donald Trump of abusing his power to get funding for a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Organized by the liberal public advocacy group MoveOn and others, the demonstrations assailed Trump’s proclamation as undemocratic and anti-immigrant.
The president declared a national emergency on Feb. 15 to reallocate billions in federal funds to make good on his trademark campaign promise. During a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden, Trump said he was making the move in response to “an invasion of our country with drugs, with human traffickers, with all types of criminals and gangs.”
Such rhetoric was denounced at the south side of Philadelphia City Hall Monday by about 200 protesters, including 18-year-old Elena Magidson, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
“Trump is completely racist,” said Magidson, “and it’s not okay to say that Mexicans are rapists and all that when in our country white men are raping women all the time.”
Erika Almiron, executive director of the immigrant advocacy group JUNTOS and Philadelphia City Council candidate, says she agrees there is an emergency, but one of a different kind, where immigrants are coming to the U.S. looking for help.
“What we’re actually seeing at the border is a crisis,” she said. “Even though we’ve had less people come into this nation than ever before, right now, what we are seeing is a humanitarian crisis and we should be responding in that way.”
Illegal border crossings have declined from a high of 1.6 million in 2000. But 50,000 families are now entering illegally each month, straining the U.S. asylum system and border facilities.
Democrats plan to introduce a resolution that would disapprove the declaration which is likely to pass both chambers, but a White House advisor says the president is prepared to veto should it pass.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.