Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins partnered with a diverse coalition of community organizations to host the Westchester Resistance Rally at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University in White Plains on Saturday, February 4th. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman appeared as a special guest. The event was organized in opposition to policies issued via executive order by President Donald J. Trump. Stewart-Cousins stood with local leaders, elected officials and Westchester community members who came together in support of human rights and in opposition to policies banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries and the construction of a multi-billion dollar wall between the United States and Mexico.
“As President Woodrow Wilson once said, ‘The history of liberty is a history of resistance,’” said Senator Stewart-Cousins. “The organic demonstrations of people all over the world underscore the importance of American ideals and values. As an elected official, people want to know where I stand. I’m happy to stand with people who build bridges—not walls—and fight discriminatory policies, no matter who orders them. I’m proud to be part of that resistance.”
The event followed weeks of protests and rallies since the Presidential Inauguration. Senator Stewart-Cousins spoke at the New York City Women’s March in January and, after the immigration executive orders, introduced the New York State Senate Democratic Conference’s Resistance Agenda. This plan includes legislation that prohibits the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and local law enforcement officials from enforcing these orders, as well as a bill that prohibits SUNY and CUNY schools from collecting personal data regarding the immigration status and country of origin of students.
Stewart-Cousins hosted the rally in partnership with many organizations, including the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, the Lower Hudson Valley Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Cabrini Immigrant Services, Community Voices Heard, the Yonkers Islamic Center, the Muslim American Society of Upper New York, St. Catherine AME Zion Church, Calvary Baptist Church, the Minister’s Fellowship Council of White Plains and Vicinity, Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings-on-Hudson, Temple Israel of New Rochelle, My Sisters’ Place, and a myriad of labor and civic organizations.
Congressman Eliot Engel said, “We are a nation of immigrants. We have always been a nation of immigrants, and we will continue to be a nation of immigrants. President Trump’s Muslim ban is a historic betrayal of our core American values, and we must not be silent in the face of that betrayal. Over the last few weeks I have met with hundreds of constituents who since the election have stood-up and made their voices heard. We must all continue to do so, or risk losing those core values permanently, and in a profound way. I am honored to join with Senator Stewart-Cousins, colleagues in government, activists, and many other proud Americans today to say we stand in support of our immigrant community and won’t stop fighting until this unconstitutional executive order is rescinded.”
“There is a frenzy in the moment, manufactured by politics, feeding on fear,” State Senator George Latimer explained. “ It was this way in 1919. It was this way in the 1950. In both cases, the fear was unfounded. And the fear dissipated. And so it is again. Reasonable people will lead us out of this false crisis.”
Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer added, “I am proud to represent the beautifully diverse City of Yonkers. Our city is so much richer because it includes both older and newer immigrants from countries around the world. I believe we are at our best when we stay true to America’s special role as a nation of welcome refuge from violence and persecution. Thank you Leader Stewart-Cousins for organizing this rally and I proudly join her standing with our immigrant friends and neighbors.”
“New York has benefited tremendously from our diversity. Welcoming immigrants isn’t just a vital part of our history from the days of Ellis Island, it is a practice that continues to enrich our community. To have Westchester leaders come together and reaffirm our commitment to a tolerant society that appreciates immigrants and refugees is inspiring,” Assemblyman David Buchwald said.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin noted, “Every one of our families has, at one point, been an immigrant in this country, whether they came here this year, 10 years ago or 100 years ago. That we should not be welcoming to immigrants or refugees goes against the standards and principles that have been part of this country’s foundation for nearly 250 years.”
“Dr. King reminded us that, ‘For evil to succeed, all it needs is for good men to do nothing,’” said Stewart-Cousins. “We are compelled to act when policies threaten the foundation of American values.”