SHOREWOOD - "Let my wife get back to me."
That was the plea written on poster board by Amin Zarandi as he walked through the streets of Shorewood with about 200 other people opposed to President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. The march on Saturday, Feb. 4, started at Shorewood Public Library, then progressed east on Capitol Drive to Atwater Park, where speakers expressed solidarity with Muslims over the ban, which was blocked by a federal judge on Friday, Feb. 3.
Zarandi, a Ph.D. student in mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, moved from Iran to Shorewood three years ago with his wife. In December, his wife returned to Iran to visit her parents.She had an appointment with the U.S. Embassy in Armenia to apply for her American visa, but when Trump signed the travel ban, her appointment was canceled.
"She cannot apply for her visa to come here," he said. "We are following the news, and we are waiting for these 90 days to pass so we can see what will happen with our future."
Several Muslim residents from Shorewood joined the frigid march down Capitol Drive and the rally that followed in Atwater Park. Two UW-Milwaukee students from Shorewood, Maryam and Safoora, said they are unable to visit their parents, and their parents are unable to visit them.They were holding a sign that said, "Stop playing politics with immigrants' lives."
"It's totally against humanity to treat people and their families (like this)," Maryam said. "They need to be reunited again. I believe this rule and this law is against humanity."
Safoora is not optimistic that her parents will be able to see her graduate in May.
"We're just students here. I don't want to be treated like a terrorist or something," she said.
Shorewood resident Fuad Ahmad said his family canceled a trip to visit his wife's family in Dubai in the wake of the travel ban. Ahmad, who owns a clinic, said he would like to see a better understanding of Islam in the United States.
"I'm not an Islamic terrorist. I'm your neighbor. I live down the street. I have a clinic where I take care of people all day long, and I contribute to American society. That's what I am," he said. "The Muslims that you see in this crowd around us — they are doctors, they are lawyers, they are students. What are they doing? They are contributing to society.
"We really have to ask ourselves: Is this going to help make our country safer, spreading this type of rhetoric? It won't. What's going to make this country safer is people like all of you. People who are going to build bridges. People who are willing to get to know their Muslim neighbors. People who are willing to stand up to injustice. Seeing all of you here today is a very powerful statement."
State Rep. David Bowen, who represents Shorewood and part of the north side of Milwaukee, said people opposed to the immigration ban will have to talk to people with opposing viewpoints if they want to create change.
"This has to be more than one time, one Saturday, where we come together and smile and hug and shake hands and we don't do anything forward," Bowen said. "In order to change this, we must approach the other side. We must approach those who continue to believe, like Paul Ryan, that actually having this Muslim ban is the right thing to do."