Hundreds swarmed inside the International Terminal this evening at San Francisco International Airport to condemn reports that immigrants are being held under President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries.
On Friday, President Trump issued the order, banning citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country.
The protesters earlier today had blocked the street in front of the international arrival area of the airport, which was closed to traffic, airport officials said. But the protesters have moved inside chanting, “Let the families out, let the lawyers in.”
Lara Kiswani, an organizer with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center said:
“We have lawyers currently at SFO. What we’re not clear about is who or what type of families are being held, whether they’re from Syria or Iran or other countries, we don’t know for certain.”
Attorney Susie Hwang said there are currently about a dozen attorneys who have arrived at the airport’s International Terminal in response to a call from the International Refugee Assistance Project asking attorneys to help immigrants being detained at airports across the country. Hwang said of Trump’s order:
“I’m concerned about the abuse of law and the disregard for the constitution.”
Hwang said several families have been at the airport waiting for several hours to hear word about whether their loved ones will be allowed to leave the airport or returned back to their countries.
According to Hwang, one woman had been waiting for seven hours for her 30-year-old son, who arrived at the airport from Iran early this morning.
The woman received asylum in the U.S. six years ago and is hoping her son will as well. Hwang said:
“Based on his religion, he is being persecuted and is in grave danger if he does go back.”
This evening, Hwang said customs officials released one woman from Iran with a Green card after they held and questioned her.
The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it was taking legal action on behalf of two individuals detained in New York under the order. The National Council for American Islamic Relations said it would be filing suit on behalf of 20 more individuals on Monday.
Kiswani said in a statement:
“We are prepared to fight back against these racist executive orders and will defend and protect all communities and normalize resistance to Trump everywhere.”
SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said he was aware of today’s protest, but referred any questions about enforcement of the order to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Our goal is to allow for this free speech activity while also ensuring travelers are able to move through the Airport unimpeded.”
Frank Falcon, a local Customs and Border Protection spokesman, referred questions about local enforcement of the order to the agency’s national office, declining to say whether the agency was even enforcing the order in Bay Area airports.
Calls and emails to the national Customs and Border Protection public affairs office were not returned.