ST. CLOUD -- A few hundred people gathered in downtown St. Cloud Monday to protest President Donald Trump's executive action that temporarily bans immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

At around 4:30 p.m. residents gathered on the steps of the Stearns County Courthouse to resist the travel ban, then marched down Division Street/Highway 23 to the St. Cloud City Hall.

A handful of people who were part of the rally spoke during the open forum portion of Monday night's St. Cloud city council meeting, but overall they were peaceful and did not disrupt the meeting in anyway.

Jane Conrad is one of the organizers of the group "Expect Resistance". She says it doesn't look like to her that the President wants to find a compromise on the issue. Conrad says we need to stop letting fear control us.

"We need to be more level headed, and we have to stop listening to the fear and the rhetoric that's out there. And we have to start working together to build great communities."

Omar Podi is a U.S. citizen who lives in St. Cloud now, but he is originally from Somalia. He says the executive action directly affects him because his wife was waiting to be screened at the Nairobi embassy so she could get her travel visa, and now she won't be allowed to come to the U.S. at least until to 90 day temporary ban is over.

Many community leaders have made statements regarding the travel ban.

St. Cloud State University President Ashish Vaidya says St. Cloud State has always welcomed international students.

"St. Cloud State University has a long and rich history of welcoming and supporting students from around the world. The campus is greatly enriched by, and is committed to, the open exchange of students, scholars and ideas from more than 90 countries."

Bishop Donald Kettler of the Diocese of St. Cloud also released a statement regarding the recent executive order saying, "Our nation has a long history of welcoming immigrants and refugees. Whether leaving their homelands to escape persistent poverty, war or religious persecution, immigrants and refugees have always looked to the United States as a land of opportunity, a place to start a new and better life for their families."

Kettler says the order puts vulnerable people more at risk.

"This is why I am so concerned about the recent executive actions taken by the Trump administration to place restrictions on the refugee process and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. These actions put vulnerable people at further risk and erode important values that our nation is built upon."

Congressman Tom Emmer says the executive order is being used as a way to keep the country safe.

"Attacks in Paris and San Bernardino have demonstrated the danger that refugee and visa programs can pose if the vetting process is not thorough and secure. This Executive Order takes temporary and important steps to reevaluate and enhance our refugee and visa screening process. While improvements may be needed, I am confident we will work in Congress to ensure that every American remains safe, and that we can guarantee the safety of those that come to the United State seeking shelter and refuge."

Trump also weighs in with a Facebook statement saying the travel ban is not about religion or banning Muslims from coming to the United States but rather it's about keeping everyone safe.

Read his full statement below.

Jim Maurice, WJON
Jim Maurice, WJON

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