MOUNT VERNON — On a day dedicated to celebrating past presidents, about 150 people rallied Monday in Mount Vernon to protest a policy of the current president.
President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, a move he hopes will allow him to secure funding to build his long-promised wall along the border.
Supported by organizations MoveOn and Indivisible, people throughout the country voiced their disapproval on Presidents Day.
“I can tell you firsthand, there is no emergency,” said the Rev. Paul Moore, who recently came to Mount Vernon to lead St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Iglesia Episcopal de la Resurrección. “The vast majority of people coming over are coming because they’re looking for a better life and they are driven out by violence.”
Before coming to Mount Vernon, Moore said he spent five years at a church on a border town in New Mexico. As a religious leader who has spent his life in Latin American countries and with Latin American people, Moore said he felt an obligation to attend the protest.
“As a religious person, what I see coming out of the White House is immoral,” he said.
According to the Associated Press, as of Monday 16 states had filed lawsuits against the president’s declaration, saying it is unconstitutional.
While Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson has several times sued Trump and members of his administration, he had not, as of Monday afternoon, signed on to the most recent lawsuit.
“My legal team has been researching and preparing for the president’s national emergency announcement for weeks,” Ferguson said in a statement released on Twitter. “That said, I will not be challenging President Trump’s national emergency until we confirm that budget appropriations intended for Washington state will be rerouted to fund the wall.”
Instead of funding the wall, protesters said Trump and the government should focus on issues such as income inequality, climate change and health care.
“If we’re going to have an emergency, that’s what it should be called for,” said Sue Bloomfield, who hosted the Skagit County event on behalf of the two organizations. “There’s no need to call an emergency for a wall no one wants.”
Amy Wheeler said she attended the demonstration to protest what she called Trump’s divisive policies.
“I feel like the wall is a physical representation of the barriers Trump has been trying to put up between us and the Mexicans,” Wheeler said. “I think the only way forward is to prop each other up.”
People young and old attended the rally, which lasted an hour outside the Skagit County Courthouse.
Llyra Roe, a Sedro-Woolley High School senior who last year helped organize the countywide March for Our Lives event in which hundreds of students and community members marched in an effort to end gun violence, said she didn’t think Trump’s actions qualified as an emergency.
“There are so many more important things we have to worry about right now,” Roe said.
Alexa Mendoza, whose parents immigrated to the United States, said she attended because she remembers watching how hard her parents worked in the fields of Eastern Washington for little money — a pattern, she said, immigrants often fall into.
“I’m here to be a voice for people who don’t have one,” Mendoza said.