On Tuesday, Feb. 21, a giant red banner reading “Refugees Welcome” was draped across the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.
Although National Park Service rangers removed the banner, images of the iconic monument quickly spread across social media.
Before the banner was removed, Brazilian tourist Vitoria Londero spotted the sign during her three-week visit to New York.
“I think it was a very brave attitude,” Londero told the Daily News. “The symbolism was perfect.”
According to CNN, an activist group called “Alt Lady Liberty” admitted to hanging the banner in an email.
The email read:
“Almost all Americans have descendants from somewhere else. Immigrants and refugees make this country great. And turning away refugees, like we did to Anne Frank, does not make us great. Refugees are welcome here, Muslims are welcome here and immigrants are welcome here.
“And it’s not just our ancestors. Every American knows an immigrant or a refugee. We wanted to send a reminder about America when we’re at our best — the country that’s a beacon of freedom to the world, built by immigrants. Walling off countries or entire religions is against our values. That’s what the Statue of Liberty stands for.”
The group also took to Twitter, posting the image with a caption: “We must heed the words of Lady Liberty: #RefugeesWelcome”
David, an Alt Lady Liberty activist, explained that the motivation for Tuesday’s protest began several weeks ago, when the Trump administration unveiled its Muslim travel ban.
“This was first conceived in response to what’s been called the ‘travel ban’ of the Trump administration, which I think flies in the face of the founding principals of the United States,” David told Fusion.“I think the Statue of Liberty is our best symbol of the role that immigrants have played and continue to play every day in this country.”
“Muslims are welcome here, and refugees are welcome here, and the immigrant communities that are facing deportation raids are also welcome here,” David continued.
“Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements”
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued a set of orders that implement President Trump’s plan to increase immigration enforcement, putting the vast majority of the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.
According to USA Today, the memos instruct all agents – including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs Border Protection (CBP) – to identify, capture, and deport each undocumented immigrant they encounter.
The memos further require undocumented immigrants caught entering the country to be detained until their cases are resolved, among other orders.
“Department personnel have full authority to arrest or apprehend an alien whom an immigration officers has probable cause to believe is in violation of the immigration laws,” one memo said. “They also have full authority to initiate removal proceedings against any alien who is subject to removal under any provision of the (Immigration and Nationality Act).”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer claims the memos are not to create a string of mass deportations.
“Everybody who is here illegally is subject to removal at any time. That is consistent with every country, not just ours,” Spicer said in a statement. “But the priority that the president has laid forward (are) the people who have committed a crime or pose a threat to our public.”
According to Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen, the deportation protections granted by President Obama in 2012 (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program; DACA) to undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children will continue to be honored as long as those immigrants abide by the rules of the program.
More than 750,000 undocumented immigrants have been granted deportation protections under DACA.
[Featured Image by Michael Nagle/Getty Images]