LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — Hundreds of people protested Saturday evening at Los Angeles International Airport against President Donald Trump’s order banning immigrants and refugees of certain Muslim countries from coming into the U.S.
The protesters, which included the Service Employees International Union, marched through Tom Bradley International Terminal after holding a candlelight vigil outside the airport. The diverse group expressed their opposition to Trump’s executive order with chants such as “Not My Ban,” ”Yes We Can” and “Say It Loud, Say It Clear, Refugees Are Welcome Here.” One protester held a sign saying “Mexicans for Muslims.”
The group exited the terminal, but re-entered it just before 9:30 p.m., according to KNX reporter Cooper Rummell, prompting Los Angeles Airport Police in riot gear to mobilize. There was no word of any violence or arrests as of 10 p.m.
While protesters were marching through the airport, a group of immigration lawyers were stationed outside the terminal offering assistance to family members whose loved ones had been detained.
On Saturday evening, a federal judge in New York issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people with valid visas, even if they are from the seven nations subject to Trump’s ban.
U.S. Congresswomen Judy Chu and and Nanette Barragan were crisscrossing Tom Bradley terminal demanding information from Customs and Border Protection regarding confusion over whether visa holders had been detained after the federal judge’s stay had been issued.
“Because there’s a situation where you have someone who’s been granted citizenship, she’s here with her baby, and she’s being detained, and you can’t even have members of Congress get to her,” Rep. Nanette Barragan said.
“So now what we want is a briefing from CBP in terms of what they are doing,” Rep. Judy Chu said. “And they have refused to speak to us directly. And we are demanding that we get a briefing.”
The LAX protest was one of several held at airports nationwide in opposition of the order, which imposes a 90-day ban for all immigration to the U.S. from seven Muslim majority nations. Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
“I didn’t expect this in USA,” Hossein Vayghan told KCAL9 Saturday at LAX.
Vayghan has been living in the U.S. for about 20 years. On Friday, his brother left Iran to join him here.
“His car, his shop, he sold everything, his business,” Vayghan said. “He come here and live with me.”
However, when Vayghan’s brother landed at LAX, he was not allowed through customs and into the U.S.
“We know some other countries, they have it like this,” Vayghan said. “But we never expected America something like this happen.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is not releasing numbers on how many people are being turned away from the U.S. because of the order, but many families were sharing their stories on social media. Mohammed Al Rawi says his father was stopped in Qatar, then put on a plane back to Baghdad instead of the one coming to LAX.
“I knew that maybe in the future it would be a challenge for him to come visit,” Rawi told reporters by phone. “But I would not expect that he would be stopped halfway and be sent back home.”
Shane Moss was also surprised that his girlfriend, who has dual citizenship in Iran and Canada, is now stuck in customs at LAX. The couple were trying to come back from a weeklong vacation in Thailand when she was stopped.
“To think it would affect her, given that she’s here legally, she’s been here almost a year, and she’s been in Canada since she was 5,” Moss said. “Very surprising, I’m shocked.”
Attorneys like Talia Inlander are trying to help the immigrants and families stuck at LAX.
“This portion of the order is, in our view, unquestionably unconstitutional, illegal, and we intend to fight it,” Inlander told KCAL9.
Some of those arriving at LAX were coming to visit the U.S., and others had lived here for years.
Dr. Yakdan Al Qaisi, a 62-year-old physician from Bakersfield, said his wife was detained for hours at the airport Saturday after she made a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. The pair are British citizens and have lived in the U.S. for more than two decades. Both have green cards.
“I expect this to happen everywhere in the world — except this country,” he said. “But it looks like this country is no different from anywhere else.”
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