A MARCH FOR REFUGEES REFLECTION

Three wonderful young adults reflect on the Salt Lake City March for Refugees. Thank you to everyone who submitted and to those who marched and fought (and continue to fight) for the rights of our immigrants. All the love, x. 

My name is Ashlee and I am American. Not only am I from the United States, but I am also white. These two traits have shielded me from experiencing many of the horrors that people around me face everyday. Although this has opened my eyes to the fact that I MUST DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.People who Immigrate to the United States are often fleeing their home because of life threatening factors. People are leaving because it’s not safe for them or their family. Refugees are coming from the same thing, unsafe homes. The refugee march last Saturday represented one thing: safety. People in these countries are dying before our eyes, who are we to build walls or create bans? It is our job, as people, to protect our own. We cannot keep these people out, we must LET THEM IN.

Ashlee Monfredi, 17

When I first heard about the executive order that would ban people from entering our country from seven predominantly Muslim countries I started hearing about the effects that this would have on refugees trying to come into the United States. My uncle works for a non-profit organization here in Salt Lake City that helps people who are seeking asylum, many of whom are from the countries listed in the ban. This ruling would dramatically affect whether they can receive asylum or not.

I also have a friend that I went to elementary school with who is a refugee from Somalia. She loves the United States and her country of origin. If this ban had been in place back in 2004 when my friend’s family came here to Somalia it would have been impossible for them to come and her life would have been dramatically different.

When my mom told me that Salt Lake would be holding a protest march for refugees on February 4th I absolutely wanted to participate. I believe that the ban is unethical, immoral, and completely un-American. The march was an amazing experience. It was incredibly uplifting and inspiring and the opposite of the hateful rhetoric that I’ve been listening to and reading about for the past several weeks. I’m so glad that I was able to participate in such an important cause.

Grace Petty, 16

At least once, everyone of us has heard someone over the age of thirty pronounce their fear that the impact of the coming generations-ours-will be a dull one. Teens are described as boring, passionless, uninspired, and above all, lazy. For a moment though, I’d like to focus on what we are, rather than what we are not.

As I marched toward the capital, crowds grew thicker, shouts got louder, and signs of protest increased in abundance. I noticed one thing that stuck  out to me most during the march, the people crowding around me were all near my age. Teens shouting at the top of their lungs, immigrants shouting at the top of their lungs, “No hate, no fear! Refugees are welcome here!”

Not one of them shouted louder than the other, and no one was trying. There was no competition, we were all on the same team. An even wall of voices. Signs said different things in a number of languages, but all sent the same message.

Immigrants at the march brought every member of their families with them. Toddlers holding signs, being held by their parents. They were examples of what we were fighting for. After their lives being so dramatically altered by coming here, I cannot imagine being told to leave. They’ve brought their families in hopes of a better life for their kids and generations to come. A family welcomed people in the crowd at the first stairs of the capital, thanking protesters, the generation to come. The women next to me encouraged people to join the march by saying, “You don’t have to have a sign. IT’s about the body count.” Even a man, in a wheelchair, sat near police, 200 yards from the capital, chanting and encouraging others to chant with him. It was all about people coming together for the people, to stand for something they believe in. We, together, have cleverly found ways to project our voices. Ultimately this fight affects all of our lives. I encourage you to take these problems personally my friends, immigrants, allies, and activists.

The people will not be quiet. The passion of the people continues to fuel itself. New marches, protests, artwork, inventions, and ideas for improvement of the future of our nation – excuse me – world, has been resurrected from the “lazy generation.”

This generation is not boring, passionless, or uninspired. And we are certainly not lazy! We should not be afraid to act for the sake of avoiding consequences. It is all about the people. This is a creative generation, the beginning of a new revolution. We will continue to thrive from the generated power we are now experiencing. We, together, are unstoppable. Keep up the good work, my fellow allies, and power to the people!

Gaeble Augustus Jones, 17

Evermore, thank you. Please remember, you have a voice and you are capable of change.

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