Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Greensboro Thursday night to speak against the immigration policies of the Trump administration.
The “Emergency Rally for Muslim and Immigrant Rights,” organized by the Greensboro branch of the International Socialist Organization, brought a diverse group of activists together for speeches, chants, and a march against what they consider hateful rhetoric and an expected crackdown in national immigration policy.
The Greensboro Police Department says about 400 people attended the two-and-a-half hour event.
Lena Ragab was one of a few dozen people who spoke to the crowd over the course of the evening. She's a member of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Muslim Student Association, and says growing up Muslim in America can already be difficult, and fears it will get worse under the Trump administration.
“I grew up struggling, and I think everybody's gone through the same struggle with me,” Ragab said. “Discrimination and Islamophobia has been a real thing for a long time.”
Chauncey James says he's already seeing the United States backpedal on issues of social justice.
“We've made so much progress in just the last 50 years alone,” he said. “To see all that washed up, thrown out in the span of a week, that's heartbreaking.”
Trump campaigned throughout the 2016 election on being tough on immigration, promising to limit the scope of immigration to the United States, build a wall along the Mexican border, and deport millions of undocumented immigrants.
He has also threatened to cut federal funding for so-called sanctuary cities, which are generally known as places where local government limits how much aid they give to federal immigration officials.
Rev. Audra Abt, who attended Thursday's rally, says the city of Greensboro will be weaker if Trump's promises come to fruition.
“I'm concerned that families could get split up, people could get deported, criminalization of their existence here, even more than it was, could increase, which makes them and their families unsafe, therefore makes me unsafe, makes our community unsafe,” Abt said.
Organizers of the rally have encouraged activists to get more involved in community volunteering. They also say they plan more rallies in the future.