Protesters gather at airports over immigration action
NEW YORK — Protesters gathered outside John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Saturday demanding the release of refugees blocked from entering the United States.
“We Are All Immigrants,” read one sign held by a protester.
“Let Them In,” read another.
Others read: “Refugees Welcome,” “Disobey” and “Resist.”
Later on Saturday, a federal judge said the U.S. can’t deport anyone currently detained in airports as a result of President Trump’s executive order regarding immigration, CBS News’ Paula Reid reported.
The protest at JFK was organized within hours of reports that people were being detained. Congressman Jerry Nadler, D-New York, said 12 people were detained at the New York airport. Hameed Khalid Darweesh, a former translator for the U.S. military in Iraq, was held for hours before being released.
“They treat me as though I break the rules or did something wrong,” Darweesh said. “I was surprised.”
He also said, “America is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world.”
Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003. Later he was a contract engineer for the U.S. He was granted permission to relocate to the U.S., but was detained along with another traveler from Iraq after arriving at Kennedy Airport Friday night.
The protest took place a day after President Trump signed an executive order that made changes to America’s refugee and immigration policies. It placed a temporary hold on any refugees entering the U.S. for 120 days, an indefinite hold on the entry of Syrian refugees fleeing the war in their country and a 90-day hold on entry by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
Senior administration officials told CBS News that green card holders from the seven listed countries will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if they can enter the U.S.
“This really is an extraordinary measure and it requires every ounce of opposition that we can muster,” said Albert Cahn, director of Strategic Litigation at the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
A crowd also gathered on Saturday at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave reported.
By early Saturday evening, the crowd continued to grow, as did police presence. A number of lawyers at the airport offered to help families if their loved ones aren’t allowed into the U.S.
Airports in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle also saw large groups of protesters.