Ohioans protest President’s declaration, call on US Sen. Portman to stand with them

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS (WDTN) – Protests were held across the nation, including right here in Central Ohio, Monday targeted President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency that allows him to access federal dollars earmarked for other projects to build his wall.

In downtown Columbus protesters targeted U.S. Senator Rob Portman with their pleas for help.

It is another example of people here in the state coming out and calling on Portman to do something while not expecting him to listen.

“I think he’ll probably say, yeah it’s fine to have an emergency,” said Mia Lewis, a protester and activist with the group Indivisible. “Realistically that’s what he’s been doing all along.”

Lewis has been at nearly every rally and protest held outside Portman’s office in recent years.

While it may appear to protesters outside his office he isn’t listening to them, others across the state say he is representing them exactly how they expect.

Monday morning, some protesters held an early rally across the street from Portman’s office in front of the LeVeque Tower where Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has an office.

That’s where Amanda Ford was protesting on behalf of her 3rd grade daughter who was given an assignment in school to research the merits of a boarder wall.

“A lot of the students came to the conclusion that it was not such a good thing and one of the things my daughter said, and i thought was really sweet; that she wanted the statue of liberty to be our welcoming symbol from our country and not a giant wall,” said Ford.

Joining her on the sidewalk was another protester, Sean Powers; he wanted his representatives to hear him.

“I’m asking them to stop being lap dogs for President Trump and just rolling over to any proposal that he tweets,” said Powers.

Powers was holding a sign that read if you build a “wall” we will tear it down.

When asked if his sign was literal he replied, “No comment.”

Meanwhile, out in Westerville another protest was underway.

State Senator Tina Maharath, who once worked for Portman and is the child of a refugee parents, spoke.

“He knows how much my family struggle to be here; he knows how hard of a life I’ve had, how bad my upbringing as a child was being here; and he knows that I am now a State Senator,” said Maharath. “Every day that he said that he’s proud of me I’m disappointed in him for not being here for me.”

NBC 4 reached out to Senator Portman’s office for a statement about Monday’s protests.

We were provided with a statement from the senator released last Thursday after he voted for the funding agreement that avoided another government shutdown, and referred to the second paragraph for an answer to our inquiry.

“I am pleased that President Trump will sign this bipartisan funding agreement into law.  I supported this bill because it takes important steps in the right direction on border security and because it avoids another government shutdown.  I’ve said repeatedly that the president has a responsible plan to strengthen our border security.  This agreement includes nearly $1.4 billion for new barriers and fencing, which will result in another 55 miles of new barriers along the border where it is needed most, according to the experts.  This is the most funding that has ever been provided by Congress in a single year on barrier construction.  We need to do more, but this is a positive step forward.  

“I agree with the president that we have a crisis on our southern border and that we need additional barriers and fencing.  As I have said before, I would prefer we work together to find a legislative solution instead of declaring a national emergency that will likely be tied up in the courts.  That’s why I voted for this bill to strengthen our border security not just with more new barriers, but also with bipartisan priorities for the Congress and the administration.  This includes $21.1 billion for additional Customs and Border Protection officers and law enforcement personnel, more technology and cameras along the border, more humanitarian assistance, and better screening at our ports of entry to help stop the flow of drugs into this country.  This is real progress for our country.

“I hope that the House passes this bill later today so we can avoid another government shutdown.  I’m disappointed that this bill does not include my legislation to end government shutdowns once and for all.  My legislation – the End Government Shutdowns Act – would prevent shutdowns in the future by continuing government funding at existing levels when negotiations break down between the two parties.  My legislation now has 33 cosponsors.  There is a growing bipartisan consensus that we should stop shutdowns in the future.  I’m willing to work with Democrats to reach an agreement that can become law, and I continue to have good conversations with my colleagues on this issue.  I’m hopeful we can include it in upcoming budget legislation this year.”

Portman’s office made no mention of the protests in Central Ohio Monday, nor provided any indication about the senator’s position on the President’s decision to go forward with his declaration of a national emergency.

Should further statements be released on this matter, this story will be updated.

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