National Harbor, Md. — A group of about 20 demonstrators stood outside the Conservative Political Action Conference to protest President Donald Trump and his policies Friday.
The group came from Prince George’s County Democrats, said the group’s leader, Jessica Semachko, 33, from Mitchellville, Maryland. They criticized Trump’s immigration policy and his attempts to reduce the enforcement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
“We heard on Tuesday that President Trump was going to be speaking at the CPAC conference, and we felt it was important that people from the community shine a light on the real Trump agenda of militarized immigration raids, repeal of healthcare — the impact that will have on our community,” Semachko said. “The ACA could derail our hospital in Prince George’s County meaning that thousands of residents could go without ambulatory care.”
Semachko added that no one had paid the demonstrators.
The group held signs that said “resist the Trump agenda”; “I march so my children won’t have to”; “no ban, no wall”; “immigrants made America great”; and “love thy neighbor.”
The demonstrators also chanted “no wall, no ban, let us keep our healthcare plan”; “no plan, no repeal”; “we need a leader, not a creepy tweeter”; “we will not go away, welcome to your everyday”; and “no hate, no KKK, immigrants are here to stay.”
Semachko and other protesters said they were united against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the border wall, and Trump’s executive order that banned immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries.
“We really believe that immigrants are an important part of our society,” Semachko said. “They are an important part of our economy, and we need to make sure we protect them and remove them from the shadows. We have to decide what our values are in this country. I think that on Election Day, more Americans, by raw count, said that they believed in an inclusive America where we can all prosper and reach our full potential as individuals.”
Jennifer Zucker, 38, from Brookeville, Maryland, criticized attempts to repeal Obamacare without knowing what will replace it.
“I’m here to let President Trump know that I support the Affordable Care Act,” she said. “It’s helped millions of people get healthcare that didn’t have it before, and sure it has some issues, but it should be repaired and not completely repealed — especially without a new plan to replace it.”
Lauri Roadich, 64, also from Brookeville, Maryland, agreed: “I’m appalled by the repeal of the ACA without a replacement, the lack of tax returns, the splitting up of families under the guise of immigration reform. What I’ve noticed is that people are fighting for the ACA. People who hated it are now saying, ‘Don’t take away ACA.’”
She said Steve Bannon, assistant to the President and White House chief strategist, is leading Trump’s presidency. Trump is “being upstaged by underlings,” she said.
“I despise CPAC more than I despise Trump,” Roadich said. “But I’m really so dismayed at the agenda that’s going forward under the Bannon administration.”
Bev Iglesias, 66, another Prince George’s County resident, said she is worried, like the other protesters, that repeal of the Affordable Care Act will harm the county’s hospital.
“For almost seven years, Congress has tried to repeal Obamacare,” Iglesias said. “You would think that all those seven years, they would’ve made a plan. It’s all about getting rid of it but not providing anything to replace it.”
Roadich said she has never protested a president before, although she has rallied against policies and wars.
“I’ve never felt so disdained by a specific president,” Roadich said.