Tens of thousands in U.S. cities protest Trump immigration order

Sun Jan 29, 2017

Dozens of pro-immigration demonstrators cheer and hold sign as international passengers arrive at Dulles International Airport, to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order baring visitors, refugees and immigrants from certain countries to the United States, in Chantilly, Virginia, in suburban Washington, U.S., January 29, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler – RTSXYFU

By Frank McGurty and Nathan Frandino | NEW YORK/WASHINGTON

Tens of thousands of people rallied in U.S. cities and at airports on Sunday to voice outrage over President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting entry into the country for travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations.

In New York, Washington and Boston, a second wave of demonstrations followed spontaneous rallies that broke out at U.S. airports on Saturday as U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began enforcing Trump’s directive. The protests spread westward as the day progressed.

The order, which bars admission of Syrian refugees and suspends travel to the United States from Iraq, Iran, Sudan and four other countries on national security grounds, has led to the detention or deportation of hundreds of people arriving at U.S. airports.

One of the largest of Sunday’s protests took place at Battery Park in lower Manhattan, within sight of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, long a symbol of welcome to U.S. shores.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York told the crowd that Trump’s order was un-American and ran counter to the country’s core values.

“What we are talking about here is life and death for so many people,” Schumer said. “I will not rest until these horrible orders are repealed.”

The march, estimated to have grown to about 10,000 people, later began heading to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in lower Manhattan.

In Washington, thousands rallied at Lafayette Square across from the White House, chanting: “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.”

It was the second straight weekend that Washington was the scene of protests. Last Saturday, hundreds of thousands of women participated in an anti-Trump rally and march, one of dozens staged across the country.

On Sunday, many of the protesters left the White House area and marched along Pennsylvania Avenue, stopping at the Trump International Hotel where they shouted: “Shame, shame, shame.”

A crowd that police estimated at 8,000 eventually arrived at the steps of the U.S. Capitol, where a line of uniformed officers stood guard.

As the crowd passed the Canadian Embassy en route to the Capitol, protesters chanted: “Hey hey, ho ho, I wish our leader was Trudeau.” It was a reference to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Saturday Twitter message affirming his country’s welcoming policy toward refugees.

Trump defended the executive order in a statement on Sunday, saying the United States would resume issuing visas to all countries once secure policies were put in place over the next 90 days.

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” Trump said. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

‘NEVER AGAIN MEANS NEVER’

Aria Grabowski, 30, of Washington, was carrying a sign that read: “Never again means never again for everyone.”

Above the slogan was a photograph of Jewish refugees who fled Germany in 1939 on a ship that was turned away from Havana, Cuba, and forced to return to Europe. More than 250 people aboard the ship were eventually killed by the Nazis.

Rhonda Reese, 56, of northern Virginia, said: “As a Muslim, I do appreciate the support that I see. Our community feels under siege right now.”

About 200 protesters chanted on Sunday afternoon at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia near Washington.

About the same number gathered at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where anxious families awaited relatives detained for hours after flights from countries affected by the presidential order.

At Los Angeles International Airport, hundreds of people had gathered at Tom Bradley Terminal to protest Trump’s order, as chants of “refugees are welcome here” echoed through the arrivals hall. Travelers at times struggled to make their way around the boisterous yet peaceful crowd, which blocked an entrance to the hall.

Organizers estimated that more than 10,000 people gathered at Boston’s Copley Square to hear speakers including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a vocal critic of Trump and a leader of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing.

During the protests, dozens of Muslims, some of them kneeling on protest signs, bowed in prayer on rugs laid out on a grassy patch of ground in the square.

In Houston, which was already filling up with visitors for next Sunday’s Super Bowl, about 500 people marched through the downtown.

Jennifer Fagen, 47, a sociology professor at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, said she hoped she did not lose her job for protesting.

“I’m Jewish, and it’s supposed to be never again,” Fagen said, referring to the Holocaust. “Jews should be the first ones to defend Muslims, considering what has happened to us, and it seems it’s being repeated under Trump.”

(Additional reporting by Susan Corwall, Ian Simpson and Lesley Wroughton in Washington, Brian Snyder in Boston, Ruthy Munoz in Houstona and Chris Francescani in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney and Lisa Von Ahn)

– REUTERS

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