Rally 'Round the Refugees

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A community rally in support of refugee resettlement is happening this Saturday, Feb. 4, from 2 to 3 p.m. at El Presidio Park, 160 W. Alameda St.

City Council member Steve Kozachik and various faith leaders will speak at the event, in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban entry of refugees and travelers from Muslim-majority countries.

“This is inter-faith—it is extra faith,” Kozachik said. “It is everybody in this community, irrespective of the labels that they wear, stepping up.”

Refugees from Syria and Iraq will also speak at the rally. It’s difficult for refugees to speak publicly right now out of fear they will be made to leave the country, Kozachik said.

“What’s important is that the entire community is standing alongside them in support,” he said. “It takes some guts for these folks to stand up there and tell their story.”

In another blow to refugees and their allies, Arizona lawmakers just unveiled a bill that if passed would make things much harder on refugees already here, who are receiving government assistance while settling into their new lives. SB 1468 would require state-funded charities and resettlement programs to cease all services to refugees, under threat of steep fines.

Kozachik is looking into the legality of such a bill. He would like to see policy makers at the federal and state level stand up to policies like these for being unconstitutional and running against the foundation the U.S. was created on.

“What I want to see in terms of public policy is very specific legislation that reaffirms the basis of our own country’s foundation, and we’ve lost that,” he said.

There was a rally on Tuesday, Jan. 30 in support of the refugee community. Tucson police estimated between 700 and 800 people gathered in front of the Federal Building in downtown Tucson. People brandished signs while the passing traffic honked in support.

“We can’t have rally fatigue,” Kozachik said. “We have to keep stepping up to the plate and say, ‘We’re not going away because this is unacceptable. It does not reflect the values that we’re founded on.’”

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