News Protests against Trump's immigration plan set in more than 30 cities Protests against Trump's immigration plan set in more than 30 cities News 11 hours ago
Protesters marched, chanted and waved signs across the nation Sunday as angry immigrant advocates pressed their demand for an end to President Trump's executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
Rallies underway in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington, Los Angeles and other cities Sunday drew thousands, part of a groundswell of fury that erupted at airports across the nation Saturday and showed no signs of abating.
"There is such an energy and anger that I have to do something about it," said Jan Rudzinski, of Arden, Del., as she joined a rally in Philadelphia where signs said "Welcome Muslims" and "Let them in."
In Washington, thousands gathered and marched outside the White House. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a rally "for our city's values" at Battery Park, where Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, called the ban "mean-spirited." Schumer said Trump's order only served to "embolden and inspire" terrorists around the world.
Thousands of demonstrators thronged Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, met not only by squads of police in riot gear but by a knot of Trump supporters who stayed across the street, holding signs and American flags and trying to engage the crowd with a loudspeaker. The protests briefly cut off traffic to the busy terminal that serves most international flights, but travelers still made their way through. A line of police separated the groups.
Paul Blair, 35, of Los Angeles, held a sign that read, "Cruelty is not strength."
"I've never made a sign before in my life," he said, but added that he felt "pretty strongly this is a cruel policy that serves no purpose and doesn't benefit America."
Another protester, Nahtahna Cabanes, 40, also of Los Angeles, handed out dozens of tamales to the crowd from a large aluminum tray. Cabanes said she found them on a table but that they were not being consumed. So she took it upon herself.
"You've got to feed the revolution, right?" she said with a smile.
At least three protests unfolded in the Detroit area, home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the USA.
"This is where the march became a movement," said Phoebe Hopps, one of the Michigan coordinators for last week's Women's March on Washington. Hopps, who lives in Traverse City, Mich., scrambled Saturday evening for a permit from the Wayne County Airport Authority. In all, at least five protests took place across Michigan.
For Ayah Kutmah, 18, a student at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the issue was personal.
"My parents are Syrian," she said, having just arrived at the airport Sunday from her hometown of Louisville, Ky. She protested there before she got on her plane, then joined marchers in Detroit when she landed. She held a sign that said "Welcome" in English and in Arabic. "This ban is really personal to me, and to my family."
I'll be joining New Yorkers at Battery Park this afternoon to stand up for our city's values. See you there.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 29, 2017
In Boston, thousands turned out in Copley Square, many holding signs, including "Brown and proud" and "No wall no ban."
"Can you hear us Washington?!" tweeted Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. "We’re standing strong in Boston to support & protect ALL of our people & we will not back down. #NoBanNoWall"
In Virginia, the advocacy group CASA's call for a rally at Dulles International Airport drew dozens of placard-carrying protesters.
“We will not stop until this executive order is canceled and we arrive at common-sense, immigration reform that takes into account the lives of immigrant and refugee families,” CASA Virginia state director Michelle LaRue said.
Protests targeted major airports from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York. Other demonstrations were taking place in town squares and smaller airports from Bangor, Maine, to Bloomington, Ind., to Boise.
At San Francisco's airport, hundreds of people choked the international terminal for a second straight day, waving sings that read "Let Them In" and "No Ban No Wall." A phalanx of lawyers lined up to offer free legal aid to refugees affected by the executive order.
"I am committed to spending my weekends protesting," said Liz Freese-Cabrera, a video producer who attended the Women's March in Washington, D.C. She said she had spent 12 hours protesting at the airport on Saturday.
The executive order, signed Friday, suspends entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, halts admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and bars entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Protesters began swarming major airports Saturday. In Chicago, thousands of demonstrators gathered at O'Hare International Airport. In New York, more than 2,000 at John F. Kennedy Airport chanted "Let them in!" At Los Angeles International Airport, 200 protesters, shouted, "No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA."
In Dallas, Mayor Mike Rawlings on Sunday afternoon met with travelers who had been held at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, handing them bouquets of white roses and telling reporters, "The tide is turning and the sun is rising — and these important visitors to our city are here. We have wished them welcome and we have apologized from the depths of our heart," WFAA-TV reported.
Federal Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn granted an emergency stay Saturday at the behest of immigration rights lawyers. The judge’s ruling applies to those who have already arrived in the U.S. and those who are in transit who hold valid visas. Judges in Massachusetts and Virginia also ordered halts.
The Department of Homeland Security earlier Sunday shrugged off court rulings, saying they will have little impact on "overall implementation" of Trump's order. But Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly late Sunday said in a statement that the entry of lawful permanent residents was "in the national interest." Accordingly, he said, if these people aren't considered to be a threat, their cases will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Trump took the media to task for calling the policy a "Muslim ban," and said his new policy was "similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months."
Trump added, "This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days."
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., lauded Trump's order as "responsible," telling USA TODAY that U.S. intelligence agencies need time to "ascertain the scope of the Islamic terror threat in order to develop proper refugee vetting protocols — if possible."
Other Republicans, however, were less enthused. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., tweeted the executive order "sends signal, intended or not, that US doesn't want Muslims here- fear it may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve security." And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told ABC's This Week that the courts will decide "whether or not this has gone too far. I don't what to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful. We don't have religious tests in this country."
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, one of the groups that sued the federal government in New York, said attorneys are waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to release a list of people who are still being detained under Trump's order.
“We continue to face Border Patrol non-compliance and chaos at every airport across the country and around the world,” she said.
Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world - a horrible mess!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 29, 2017
Lawyers were standing in arrival terminals of international airports with signs, written in English, Arabic and other languages, offering assistance.
Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, said a 17-year-old orphan from Afghanistan whose entire family was killed by a land mine in Kabul was not allowed to board his flight to the U.S.
“The last 48 hours have really been full of chaos,” Hincapié said.
Protesting at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport with about 850 others, Kousha Kalantari, a 25-year-old Iranian graduate student at Arizona State University, held a homemade sign that said, "I wanna see my parents."
Kalantari said he's afraid to travel, given the executive order.
"This is racism," Kalantari said, noting that he has exchanged emotional phone calls with his parents about the situation. "I feel that I am in a prison," he said. "I came here for opportunities and to seek a good education. Now I don't feel like I can stay."
Contributing: Brittany Horn, The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal; Keldy Ortiz, The (Bergen County, N.J.) Record; Meghan Finnerty and Yihyun Jeong, The Arizona Republic; Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press; Chris Woodyard, Jon Swartz, Greg Toppo, USA TODAY