Trump Sparks Airport Protest

Permanent residents and valid visa holders detained and deported by Trump’s executive order

Protests broke out nationwide again after Trump signed an immigration order banning Muslims from seven countries travel to the U.S. on Friday, Jan. 27. At the Los Angeles International Airport, Tom Bradley International Terminal, protests lasted throughout the weekend. Word spread on social media and hundreds gathered in front of the terminal with homemade signs and some with musical instruments.

Justine was one of the protesters on Sunday, Jan. 29, shouting with the crowd on the outer circle.

“I think people recognized what Trump wants to do is unconstitutional and illegal and it’s a really cowardly move because he is taking advantage of the Refugee Act of 1980, which said that the President is allowed to do this by executive order, but it’s really just a easy, cowardly, low-hanging move,” Justine told the University Times. “He’s just trying to appeal to his basic voters he got by promising that he was going to do this.”

The Refugee Act of 1980 signed by President Jimmy Carter after the Vietnam War, which “raised the annual ceiling for refugees from 17,400 to 50,000, created a process for reviewing and adjusting the refugee ceiling to meet emergencies, and required annual consultation between Congress and the President,” according to the National Archives Foundation. Although Trump did not repeal the Refugee Act, he lowered the ceiling of how many refugees the U.S. will take. He set the pace of relocating refugees into the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)’s official website, under the Q&A section in “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” regarding whether refugees “in transit” will be affected by the executive order, it stated that “there are currently 872 refugees who are considered to be in transit who are scheduled to arrive in the United States this week. The Secretaries of State and DHS have coordinated and will process the 872 individuals consistent with the terms of the Executive Order, which we’ve operationalized by assessing each traveler on a case-by-case basis.” This means that there’s no way in knowing whether they will be sent back or not due to the sudden change of the vetting process.

With Trump’s new executive order, even green card holders and travelers with valid documentations are being detained by the CBP. A young lady in hijab named Nadia was also present at the LAX protest.

“I think this is America. Trump’s executive order is not America. I’m here in support of family and friends, this ban affects a lot of people in my community. I think people coming together, showing support to each other, it helps to get through times like this,” said Nadia. “It’s also letting the media know, letting Trump and others know that this is what we believe in.”

Daniel was recording the protest on his phone by the entrance when a few passengers with luggage struggled through the crowd. He was a German traveler waiting for his flight back home.

“It’s right to do it [the protest]. I think it’s really important to set a sign to say ‘No, Trump is not what we think it’s right’. It’s good that people are protesting, and it has to go viral in order to make a change. I just posted a video,” Daniel said. “I’m lucky that I’m not missing my flight, I was here early enough. The shuttle bus was a little delayed, but apart from that, people are fine.”

Next to the escalator, Nass was passing out free water bottles and snacks to protesters; she was there as an individual.

“I’m an immigrant, so I’m here to support. Our liberty is at stake here and I think these people are amazing to protest against what’s happening in our country,” said Nass, while pulling a water bottle out of a plastic bag to give to a middle-aged woman with a wooden sign. “We can’t be quiet, we have to say something, that’s how our democracy works. We vote, we have a voice, and there’s no one person that can just come and change all that. You can’t just not allow immigrants in. I’m hopeful that protesting will help,” she added.

A few steps away from the demonstrators’ circle, a violinist was playing mellow music gracefully outside the gate, though the melodies were difficult to hear. Her name was Paula, and she wanted to contribute to the protest in her own way.

“As a child of Korean immigrants, it was very important for me to come out here. So I brought my violin because I wanted to play some peaceful protest music, everything from We Shall Overcome, to classical music like Bach and Mozart,” she said. “And I also found some pieces written by Jewish composers who unfortunately died in the Holocaust, and their music was preserved as their legacy. So I wanted to play that as well to remind people never to forget.”.

It was overall a peaceful demonstration, with police officers silently standing along the road, and airport securities walking in and out. The attempts to interview security and staff were mostly declined with the expression “I don’t want to lose my job.”

Inside the terminal, it was quiet, but you could see a colorful booth not far from the gate. Many attorneys and legal service agencies also participated in a more subtle way.

Nickole Miller is a Managing Attorney with Immigrant Defenders Law Center (ImmDef) in Los Angeles. According to their website, she is in the Children’s Representation Project (CRP) at ImmDef, and leads her team in representing children in deportation proceedings.

“We’re doing a whole host of different things here at the airport today, speaking with family members and friends who might have known information about passengers who are currently being detained, to see whether or not we can get more information for lawsuits, and to help advocate for the release,” she told the University Times. “There are many different legal aid service providers here today, in addition to private attorneys.”

The University Times will report on the latest developments throughout the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency.

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