BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Following President Donald Trump’s inauguration and signing shortly thereafter of an executive order to prevent persons from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, Queens residents held protests and denounced the new administration’s actions.
Queens leaders and community activists blasted Trump’s travel ban on residents from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, but also his proposal to construct a border wall between the United States and Mexico and threats to punish sanctuary cities that refuse to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation.
Elected officials representing Queens at the city, state and federal level vowed to protect the borough’s immigrants. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, more than 50 people were detained and released—while two others were deported—during the week following the signing of the executive order. Protesters blocked airport traffic and marched from terminal to terminal in the days that followed.
At Queens Borough Hall, Borough President Melinda Katz held a rally to support the borough’s vast immigrant population. Advocates noted that Queens is home to 130 languages and persons from 120 countries, and that 48 percent of Queens residents were born outside of the United States.
In the weeks and months after Trump’s order, town halls were scheduled by elected officials and advocacy groups to inform immigrants about their legal rights. Nearly every neighborhood held a town hall, during which residents discussed their fear for their families and neighbors. Elected officials and legal aid representatives provided information during the events.
The PRESS of Southeast Queens covered several stories throughout the year of borough families who were struggling to keep their family members—several of whom were detained—in the United States.
In March, the Queens Tribune—the PRESS of Southeast Queens ’ sister paper—dedicated its 47th anniversary issue to the topic of immigration and how the borough’s diverse population was responding to tougher immigration laws.