Democrats Protest Trump's Immigration Order Outside Supreme Court

Jan 30, 2017
Originally published on January 30, 2017 11:30 pm
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Many Democratic lawmakers spent their weekend at major airports joining the protests against President Trump's executive order. With Congress back in session today, the minority party is trying to keep that momentum going, and Democrats held a rally outside the Supreme Court tonight. NPR's congressional reporter, Scott Detrow, is at that rally. He joins us from Capitol Hill. And, Scott, so this is a rally they actually get to lead this time, right? They've been joining all the others.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Yeah, that's right. This weekend, these big rallies that happened at airports were basically organic affairs that popped up on Twitter and other social media, and Democrats were scrambling to get there. The leader is Nancy Pelosi on the House side. Chuck Schumer on the Democratic - on the Senate side actually organized this. And a lot of people in the crowd and speaking were angry. The basic feeling is that this order was fundamentally un-American. Chuck Schumer spoke to that.

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CHUCK SCHUMER: This order is against what we believe in in America. The order will make us unsafe. The order will make us inhumane. And the order will make us less of America because this order is what America is all about.

CORNISH: And so this seems like an issue that Democrats finally can rally around - right? - even though there's been an onslaught of things coming out of the White House.

DETROW: Yeah, well, the House and Senate Democrats are clearly rallying around this. But I've got to tell you there was a lot of frustration from the crowd, and a lot of it was directed at the Democrats. There were chants of do your job, chants of walk the walk. I asked several people what they wanted. They said Democrats aren't doing enough to stop the Trump administration. They want specifically no votes on every nominee. A lot of people are angry that Democrats were voting yes on early nominees like James Mattis for defense secretary. They want Democrats to hold up the Senate floor until the order is rescinded.

And several people were saying they want Democrats to try and impeach Donald Trump right now. Of course, they don't have the votes to do that. They're a minority in both the House and the Senate. But we've seen a lot of this frustration build over the last few weeks, and a lot of people are saying Democrats might be going through that same Tea Party movement that Republicans went through in 2009 and 2010.

CORNISH: What are you hearing on the Republican side today?

DETROW: Well, close to 20 Republicans in Congress have voiced some sort of concern about this order. And what's most significant is probably Bob Corker. He hasn't had the most vocal response. His has been more about the rollout of it. But he's important because he's the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said this order was poorly implemented, especially since it affected green card holders as well. Of course, it is important to say that a majority of Republicans in Congress are backing what Trump is doing. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton defended this on the Senate floor today.

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TOM COTTON: I've heard lots of claims on TV about 134 Muslims who could be affected. Of course, that leaves 1.6 billion Muslims who are not affected. This is not a Muslim ban. This is a temporary pause of movement from seven countries.

DETROW: And Democrats' response to that is that Donald Trump repeatedly called for a Muslim ban as a candidate, that these are Muslim-majority countries, and that Trump has said himself that Christian refugees should be given a priority.

CORNISH: Now, we've been hearing about potential legal action, but what about political action? I mean, what, if anything, could congressional lawmakers who want to stop this do?

DETROW: Well, I think that gets back to the frustration from the crowds who want them to do more. They can't do too much. California Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced two bills responding to the order today, but it's not clear they would ever be able to come up for a vote on the Senate floor because, again, Republicans control the schedule and what votes are voted on.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Scott Detrow on Capitol Hill. Thanks for your reporting.

DETROW: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.