David Simon, creator of the locally based crime television series "The Wire" and a University of Maryland alumnus, hosted a fundraiser in Baltimore on Monday to raise money for organizations helping immigrants and refugees affected by President Trump's travel ban.
About 900 Baltimore residents purchased tickets for the sold-out "City of Immigrants: A Night of Support" event in Beth Am Synagogue, according to the Baltimore Sun. Blown Deadline Productions, Simon's company, promised to match donors up to $100,000.
The production company raised about $50,000 from ticket sales, the Sun reported. This money will go toward the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, the Tahirih Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center and the International Rescue Committee —four organizations working to support immigrants and refugees.
Simon showed pictures of his ancestors — some who were refugees and others who died in Auschwitz — to Monday's crowd, highlighting the importance of supporting immigrants.
"I've been mad about this a long time," Simon said, according to the Sun. "Every time I begin to listen to somebody explain to me the social or political problem of opening our country … every time someone summons fear or prejudice or uncertainty, I'm steadied by these pictures of my own family history."
In late January, Trump issued an executive order temporarily banning citizens of seven primarily Muslim countries from entering the U.S. A federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked this ban in early February — a block the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Thursday following Trump's appeal. A U.S. district judge from Virginia also ruled Monday that a "Muslim ban" violates the First Amendment.
The ACLU of Maryland filed a lawsuit in this state Feb. 7 against Trump's travel ban, stating that the ban's purpose is to discriminate against Muslims. The nationwide group received more than $24 million in online donations in the week after Trump implemented the ban — six times more than what they typically raise in a year, CNN reported.
Other speakers at Monday night's fundraiser included activist and educator DeRay Mckesson, author Taylor Branch and Baltimore city health commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. Wen grew up as an immigrant in the U.S., having moved from China with her family as a child. She spoke about understanding the struggle of feeling like an outsider, and urged audience members to recognize the power they have to change that, according to the Sun.
"This is our country, and everything that is happening is personal, deeply personal," Wen told those in attendance, the Sun reported. "This is our time to stand up."
Line of the night at Beth Am where Baltimoreans gathered against travel ban: “There’s no such thing as illegal people, folks.” -Steve Earle. — David Simon (@AoDespair) February 14, 2017
Folk singer Steve Earle concluded the evening, harmonica in mouth and guitar in hand, with "This Land Is Your Land," according to the Sun.
This is not the first time Simon and his company have sponsored charity events to support a cause. Blown Deadline Productions sponsors a number of music-related nonprofits in New Orleans and Baltimore, as well as the Baltimore-based Ella Thompson Fund, which supports recreational opportunities for children in underserved neighborhoods in the city, according to his website.
While sophomore finance major Paul Donald was not in attendance Monday night, he appreciated that the event brought the community together.
"It's good that people are showing support to those affected by the ban," Donald said. "It shows how people are looking to unite across cultural and religious lines."