Politics

Hundreds of people packed into the Turkish American Friendship Center in Louisville’s Buechel neighborhood on Saturday for a rally and community dinner. The cause: to combat islamophobia and racism.

The event was planned months ago, but it proved significant the day after President Trump signed an executive order to make way for extreme vetting for refugees, including indefinitely banning Syrian refugees. The order also bars all refugees from coming to the U.S. for 120 days and suspends refugees and immigrants coming from seven mostly Muslim countries.

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Many people stood for hours as they broke bread and listened to talks from activists and politicians, including Congressman John Yarmuth. The speakers slammed Trump for the strict new rules his administration imposed on immigrants and refugees on Friday.

Adam Khayat is vice president of the Muslim Student Association at the University of Louisville.

“I have family currently in Syria,” he said. “To know that if my, for example, grandma was to apply for asylum, if my cousins were to try to come they would be denied — that, to me, is something that has no place in this country.”

Roxanne Scott | wfpl.org

Along with rally cries, a petition went around the event to be presented to Mayor Greg Fischer to make Louisville a “Sanctuary City” — an official declaration to limit cooperation with federal law enforcement on immigration matters. Trump is currently targeting such cities by threatening their federal funding.

“People from around the globe who are escaping persecution whether that’s political, who are looking for a new way of life that are trying to support themselves, support their families,” said Rashaad Abdur-Rahman, head of the Louisville Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. “Every city in the country should be a place where folks could do that.”

Louisville has welcomed more than 6,000 refugees since 2011. For many of them, the city is already a sanctuary.

Roxanne Scott covers the economy for WFPL News.