Airport Protests Continue In Wake Of Trump’s Controversial Travel Ban

CHICAGO (CBS) — For the second night in a row, protesters gathered at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday to express their outrage at President Donald Trump’s travel ban for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Sunday night at O’Hare and airports in at least a dozen other cities, crowds gathered to protest Trump’s executive order that includes a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The order also bars any refugees from entering the country for 120 days.

Trump’s order created confusion and chaos at the airports. Initially, officials said the travel ban covered legal permanent residents – meaning those with green cards – and those with valid travel visas from those nations who were outside the U.S. after Friday. According to the Wall Street Journal, the State Department had said those who have dual citizenship with the seven countries also will be barred from the U.S., even if they hold passports from U.S. allies, such as the United Kingdom.

On Sunday, the White House sought to clarify the travel ban. The new restrictions do not apply to green card holders — or legal permanent residents — from the seven countries covered by the order, a senior administration official said.

“Legal permanent residents are exempt from the executive order because it is in the national interest of the United States,” the official told reporters.

Green card holders may be subject to additional screening but can continue traveling between the U.S. and their home countries freely, as long as no “derogatory information” is uncovered in the screening process.

U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth have called on the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an independent investigation into whether the executive order was legally implemented.

About 1,000 people protested the executive order at O’Hare on Saturday, packing the International Terminal for hours until those who had been detained under the order were released.

A smaller crowd of protesters returned to O’Hare on Sunday to voice their anger over the order Trump signed Friday.

At least 18 people were detained at O’Hare on Saturday after Trump’s order went into effect, but they were released late Saturday night, after a federal judge in New York intervened, issuing a temporary order prohibiting the federal government from deporting people subject to Trump’s executive order.

Several attorneys have set up at the airport over the weekend to offer pro bono legal help to those who have been detained. Outside the exit door from the customs area at O’Hare, attorneys stood holding signs written in English and Arabic: “Has your family been detained? Attorney here to help.”

Paralegal Julia Adams said lawyers have been able to help in some ways, but since no travelers have officially been detained indefinitely since Saturday, they have not had rights to consult an attorney.

“Even if there’s not very much information, we were very successful yesterday. All we had was there was a passenger on the same plane who was also held. All he knew was first name, occupation, city that she lived in; and we were able to eventually find out that she had been released,” she said. “We’re here to just help in any way we can. We really want to support these families; support them and let them know that not all of America doesn’t want them here.”

More than 400 lawyers have volunteered to help at O’Hare.

Many elected officials from Illinois, including members of Congress, also have been at the airport to show their support for the protests and to offer assistance to anyone affected by the travel ban.

“This is what America looks like,” U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky said.

The attorneys at O’Hare have advised foreign nationals from the seven countries included in Trump’s order not to leave the U.S.

“The message to the immigrant community and non-immigrants who are here legally is don’t leave the country. Stay, and don’t travel internationally until your right to return is secured,” attorney Kalman Resnick said.

One young Iranian woman cut her 21-day trip to Iran short by two weeks, because she wasn’t sure if she’d be allowed back in the U.S., where she works as a medical researcher specializing in diabetes.

“It’s just the worst feeling in the world, because you don’t know,” she said.

Her husband feared he might never see his wife again, and asked her to fly back to Chicago as soon as possible after learning of the ban.

“I just want to tell him [Trump] think about me, try to put yourself in my place for one second, and see what happened to me. My mom was crying like crazy, because she didn’t know if she was going to see me forever,” she said.

Her husband said he was in shock for five or six hours on Sunday.

While no one was detained at O’Hare on Sunday, several travelers were questioned extensively before they were allowed before they were allowed to leave the airport.

A family from Syria was reunited Sunday, after they were questioned for roughly three hours. Muhammad said he was recently accepted to dental school in the U.S.

“I was afraid that I’m going to lose my acceptance to dentist school, and be driven back to my home country, Syria, which I can’t go back to; but, hopefully, I made it. Thank you, everyone,” he said.

A BBC journalist from Iran said his social media was scrutinized, and his background was questioned before he was free to go.

“I was questioned two times regarding my place of birth, which is Iran, and regarding my work. Even they asked about my Facebook, about my Twitter,” Ali Hamedani said. “They seized my mobile phone.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel also was at O’Hare on Sunday to denounce Trump’s executive order. He has said the travel ban has “tarnished America’s standing as a beacon of hope for the free world,” and has demanded the federal government provide a list of names of anyone detained at O’Hare or Midway International Airport as a result of the travel ban.

The mayor urged residents in Chicago to host refugees and immigrants in their homes as a form of protest against Trump’s order.

“I’m calling on all Chicagoans to open up their homes, open up their hearts,” he said.

Officials said no one was being detained at O’Hare on Sunday or Monday, but the real question was if there would be a third consecutive day of protests at the nation’s large international airports.

Monday brought a third day of disruption at O’Hare’s International terminal, but the chaos caused by the President’s temporary travel ban seemed more orderly. Protesters stood behind a newly taped off area; Lawyers stood by for legal assistance, but swapped their hand drawn signs for printed ones; and U.S. Customs took a usual amount of time according to many passengers.

More From CBS Chicago

News Via Email
Podcast Network
Free Weather App!

Watch & Listen LIVE