LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Thousands of demonstrators returned Sunday to Los Angeles International Airport – the seventh busiest airport in the world – in opposition of President Donald Trump’s refugee travel ban.
Protesters arrived at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for separate demonstrations against the president’s executive order barring citizens from predominantly Muslim nations entry into the U.S.
This comes even as progress has been made to halt the action in part as a federal judge issued a stay, temporarily halting officials from deporting individuals with valid visas, or an approved refugee application from the seven nations affected.
GALLERY: The Protest At LAX In Pictures
President Trump on Sunday again insisted his ban on people from those seven countries was not “a Muslim ban” but thousands of demonstrators at airports all over the country clearly felt otherwise.
On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in an around the Tom Bradley International Terminal protesting as stories surfaced from around the world, as well as at LAX of people being detained, and some even sent back to the countries from where they originated.
Some of those people turned away reportedly were carrying valid visas. At least one man said he’s often done work for the American government.
That led to teams of immigration attorneys setting up shop on the floor of the airport, helping families with questions about the ban.
The sister of an Iranian college student who is studying in Southern California said her sister was turned away when she arrived at LAX, and was informed her student visa had been canceled.
“I think she is exhausted, honestly scared, and probably really stressed, was at LAX for at least four hours in some area with seven other people,” Sahar Muranovic, the sister, said.
The ban affects Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libia, Somalia, and Yemen.
A Department of Homeland Security official told the Associated Press that all green card holders from those nations, who were barred from returning to the U.S., have now been granted special permission to return.
But, Homeland Security in a statement said, none of this would affect the overall implementation of the president’s executive order.
The statement went on to explain that the order would remain in effect, and the court order issued Saturday would only affect a small portion of travelers who they say were “inconvenienced.”
At one point during the protest, officials closed a major segment of the loop road.
Around 7:30 p.m. some airlines began to report delays linked to the protests because passengers were having trouble getting to their gates.
CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen reported from the airport and said it was “standing room only.”
He spoke to many protesters.
“I’ve been in a really deep depression since the election and I felt it was important to have my voice be heard,” said Cynthia Serafian who came with her daughter from Rancho Cucamonga.
City Attorney Mike Feurer said he tried to speak to the detained travelers but was stonewalled by the feds.
“This is a breathtaking breach of basic rights,” he said.
While thousands came to denounce the new president and an executive order they believe is an extreme overreach, Nguyen reported a small group was there to also support President Trump.
“It’s to keep our country safe and lawful,” said Robin Hvidston.
Police kept the two sides apart when things got heated.
“Right now we’re trying to keep people from the Trump supporters so they don’t look like there are more people [there] than there are,” said Otep Shamaya, an anti-Trump demonstrator.
LAX issued the following statement Sunday:
“Due to a demonstration at LAX in front of the Tom Bradley International Terminal on the Lower/Arrivals Level, passengers are advised to plan ahead for possible traffic delays. Currently, the inner lanes at terminal curbside on the lower level are closed to traffic. All flight operations are normal. Passengers are advised to check with their airlines for flight status.”
Sunday evening, KCAL9’s Erica Mandy said “at least” 25 people were detained at LAX, according to volunteer attorneys.
She spoke to some of the detainees who were still shocked and surprised by the ban.
“I’m very, very tired,” said one woman who was detained for six hours.
Some people were detained between four and 20 hours, Mandy was told.
“This just increases hated between people,” said one man.
She also spoke to one man who was completely fine with being detained.
“I waited and they asked me some questions,” he said, “and they were simple questions and I answered. And they made everything ready. But they treated me very nice.”
At 11 p.m., she reported that as many as 17 people were still being detained at LAX.
Also Sunday night, protestors reached a compromise with police at LAX.
In a statement, the airport said protestors were allowed to block the upper and lower level roadways for 30 minute intervals making sure one side was open at all times.
They wrote, “To be clear, when the Upper Level is blocked by demonstrators in front of the Tom Bradley international Terminal for 15 minutes, the Lower Level roadway will be fully open for 30 minutes. The situation then reverses. ”
KNX 1070 reported that two people were arrested Sunday evening for failing to disperse.