Waving signs and carrying photos of their immigrant ancestors, a crowd of demonstrators gathered in Mountain View at noon on Sunday to encourage the United States to welcome refugees. The event in Civic Center Plaza was part of the National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees, with similar events held in cities across the country.
Speakers at the Feb. 12 rally included a local high school student who is the grandson of immigrants, refugees from Hungary and Vietnam, Mountain View's vice mayor, Lenny Siegel, and Palo Alto City Council members Adrian Fine and Cory Wolbach.
Among those gathered in the crowd, estimated at several hundred people, was Santa Clara resident Irene Lefton, who carried a sign with a black-and-white photo of family members who left Poland for the United States in the early 1900s. She said she was there to speak out in support of refugees and immigrants.
Mindy Berkowitz of Jewish Family Services of Silicon Valley urged the crowd to take action to help local refugees and immigrants, volunteer with resettlement agencies and continue their advocacy at local and national levels, according to Micaela Hellman-Tincher of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos. Ishaq Pathan of the Islamic Networks Group encouraged continued partnership between Muslims and Jews, saying that the two groups would stand up for each other in times of need, Hellman-Tincher said.
Sunday's rally was the latest in a wave of protests and demonstrations in response to President Donald Trump's Jan. 27 executive order temporarily barring refugees and foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. A federal district judge blocked key parts of the travel ban, a decision that was unanimously upheld on Feb. 9 by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
The National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees was organized by HIAS, an American Jewish charity that aids and advocates for refugees.