Hundreds of protesters showed up at back-to-back rallies Saturday in Portland to protest against President Trump and his policies.
About 300 people gathered at noon at Portland City Hall to call on Trump to release his tax returns and divest himself of his business holdings. Nearly 200 people protested the president’s immigration policies at 2 p.m. at Deering Oaks.
The City Hall rally was organized by March Forth, a political group started by Maine women who went to the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s inauguration.
The crowd held signs reading “Putin! Release Trump’s Taxes,” “You Are Not Above the Law Trump” and “What’s He Hiding?” while speakers delivered speeches next to a sobbing replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Trump is the first president or major-party presidential candidate in four decades not to release his tax returns.
“Congress must do its job by forcing Trump to release his taxes,” said Fred Brancato, a speaker with the Elders for Future Generations.
Thousands of others turned out in other cities across the country Saturday – usually tax-filing deadline day, although this year it is April 18 – as part of Tax March, which organizers designed to pressure Trump into releasing his taxes.
At Deering Oaks, protesters rallied against the president’s immigration policies in an event organized by local members of Movimiento Cosecha, or Harvest Movement, a national grass roots Latino organization that supports immigrants.
The rally followed two arrests of immigrants in Maine this month.
Immigration officers detained Somali asylum seeker Abdi Ali, 28, of Westbrook on April 6 after his appearance at the Cumberland County Courthouse on a drunken-driving charge.
Otto Morales-Caballeros, 37, of Naples was detained near his home by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Wednesday while on his way to work.
A spokesman for ICE said Morales-Caballeros is a citizen of Guatemala and was arrested on an outstanding removal order issued in 2010 by a federal immigration judge. He will remain in ICE custody pending his removal from the United States, according to ICE.
Morales-Caballeros was convicted in 2013 on federal charges of felony use of fraudulent documents, according to ICE.
He came to the United States alone as teenager without legal documentation. His wife, Sandra Scribner Merlim, said immigration officials had assured him in the past he would not be deported if he stayed out of legal trouble.
Samaa Abdurraqib of Portland, co-organizer of the rally, said there are chapters of Movimiento Cosecha in Milbridge, where there is an immigrant farmworker presence, and Rockland, as well as a fledgling chapter in Portland.
“All immigrants should be treated with respect and there should be protections for documented and undocumented immigrants,” said Abdurraqib, an American native who works for a domestic violence agency.
Those at the Deering Oaks rally gave different reasons for participating.
David Berdeja, who emigrated from Mexico to Rockport last fall after a six-year struggle to get to the U.S. legally, said it was a shock to arrive just as Trump was elected.
“What is happening is not fair, ” Berdeja said.
Jessica Perez of Portland, a Mexican-American, said she didn’t know much about Movimiento Cosecha but she wanted to learn more.
“I believe in supporting immigration. We are the place for opportunity and we should actually act that way,” Perez said.
Nyamuon Nguany of Portland, who emigrated to Portland from Ethiopia 22 years ago, said Trump’s policies have had a big impact on children in Portland schools, where she provides programming through Youth MOVE Maine, a statewide youth support group.
“I have seen fear in these younger kids,” she said.
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