Trump ban roils nation, Bridgeport

January 31, 2017 GMT

BRIDGEPORT — Give them sanctuary.

The urgent pangs of protest that have swept across the country reached Bridgeport on Monday night in a diverse and energized show of solidarity.

Mayor Joseph Ganim may not be ready to take formal steps to join cities around the country in protecting immigrants against recent action by President Trump, but dozens of people gathered on McLevy Green seemed eager to make that decision for him.

“Sanctuary City! Sanctuary City!” the crowd cried, nearly drowning out the mayor as he addressed the rally.

“This is a city of immigrants. All of us came a generation or two back from other places,” Ganim began. “I look forward to working with all of you.”

His final words, “I stand in solidarity with you,” were lost in the chants of the crowd.

Trump’s order barring travelers from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States has caused chaos in airports around the world and sparked thousands to demonstrate against last week’s executive order.

Ahmed Ebrahim, a professor of accounting at Fairfield University, sparked the crowd as he declared, “This is not the America we all live in.”

“The Muslim community is part of this community, but the Muslim community is in pain,” Ebrahim said. “This has nothing to do with national security.

“We are barring families who are fleeing horrible atrocities and coming here for a better life. We will protect our democracy.”

The evening rally in downtown Bridgeport was sponsored by Make The Road CT and other civil rights and religious organizations dedicated to protecting immigrants and their interests.

“On Saturday, I woke up with a sense of urgency,” said Marco Vicente, organizer of Make The Road CT. “I saw people going to airports and to the streets, and I thought what about Bridgeport, the largest city in Connecticut? It has the largest population of immigrants in Connecticut.”

Luis Luna, of New Haven, said he is afraid of the current climate. His girlfriend is from Egypt, and he recently converted to Islam.

“I’m afraid what will happen if we leave the country and then want to return,” Luna said. “This is a very difficult time.”

Isa Mujahid is the leader of Connecticut Corps Organize Now, another group that helped organize the rally.

“Our purpose is to eliminate racial inequities in our state,” Mujahid said. “We want to make Bridgeport a sanctuary city.”

State Sen. Ed Gomes of Bridgeport brought the crowd to a fever pitch, after he proclaimed: “We have a president who is a racist, and Bridgeport will stand against what this president stands for. In Hartford, we will stand against any ruling he makes that does not support our immigrants.”

Ganim, meanwhile, has yet to endorse a sanctuary designation for the city.

“Bridgeport has always been an immigrant city, and will continue to be,” the mayor said last week in a statement. “As a port city and one with great industrial heritage, Bridgeport’s economy has always been driven by the energy and hard work of generations of immigrant communities.”

But much like Monday night’s rally, Ganim stopped short of embracing the label, let alone, adopting it.

“In Bridgeport, we have no ordinance declaring us a ‘sanctuary’ city or directing restricting cooperation by our police department with any federal law enforcement agency,” Ganim said in the statement. “Therefore, I am not concerned that any federal funding for Bridgeport is in jeopardy.”

A city’s immigrant future, the crowd insisted Monday, is less certain.