Area residents ‘stand together’ for immigrants

Around 75 people gathered in downtown Marshall for a vigil in support of immigrants and refugees

Photo by Deb Gau Sherwin Skar, Helen Langer and Kathy Jones were part of a group of area residents who took part in a vigil supporting immigrants Tuesday evening in Marshall.

MARSHALL — The corner of Main Street and East College Drive was busy with the usual after-work traffic, but there was something extra going on Tuesday. A cluster of people had gathered, holding handmade signs with slogans like “Welcome Refugees,” and “Hate and Fear Not Welcome Here.” The posterboard that Marshall resident Mohamed Omar held above his head simply read “No Ban,” in reference to President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking people from several countries from entering the U.S.

A motorist honked for the group as she drove past. There was a cheer in response.

Local residents and members of the Marshall Area Peace Seekers organized a vigil Tuesday evening to show support for immigrants and refugees. Group members estimated around 75 people had gathered at the corner. It was a diverse crowd, including immigrants from east Africa. Somalia is one of the nations included in the 90-day immigration ban.

Banning immigrants was something that would hurt the U.S. and its people, vigil participants said.

“We immigrated here from east Africa,” Mohamed Omar said. “We contribute to the American economy. We’re the same, or equal as everyone else.” Banning immigrants would mean taking opportunities away from many people, he said.

Other participants in the vigil said they were there to speak out against negative actions the country is taking.

“I’m just worried about the future,” said Sherwin Skar. In times like this, everyone needed to stand together, he said.

The vigil was getting a mix of reactions. There were plenty of vehicles that honked as they passed the gathering. Some drivers offered encouragement or a thumbs-up while stopped at the traffic light. One young man yelled “Donald Trump!” out the window of another passing car.

Hodan Ali, who was at the vigil with her children, said she was happy to see how many positive reactions the group was getting.

“It’s good to see there are good people here,” Ali said.