SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP/BCN) — An emergency stay was granted by a federal judge in New York Saturday evening blocking deportations from President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry into the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries after a day when protesters swarmed airports nationwide, including hundreds at San Francisco International Airport.
The protesters gathered around 3 p.m. at SFO after news broke Friday that Trump’s order had taken effect immediately, with refugees and people from affected nations being stopped and detained at airports all over the world.
Police at first kept the protesters on the sidewalk, but as the crowd grew they spilled into the street blocking all traffic at the international arrivals terminal. They later moved into the terminal as immigration advocate attorneys tried to access people detained inside. The protesters chanted, “Let the families out, let the lawyers in.”
Police closed the street at the international terminal to traffic, airport officials said. Passengers were being picked up on the departure level or in the garages.
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On Friday, President Trump issued the order, banning citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country.
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.”
The national Council for American Islamic Relations said it would be filing suit on behalf of 20 more individuals on Monday.
“We are prepared to fight back against these racist executive orders and will defend and protect all communities and normalize resistance to Trump everywhere,” Kiswani said.
Attorney Susie Hwang said about a dozen attorneys 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.
“I’m concerned about the abuse of law and the disregard for the constitution,” Hwang said of Trump’s order.
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Hwang said several families had been at the airport waiting for several hours to hear word about whether their loved ones would be allowed to leave the airport or returned back to their countries.
One woman had been waiting for seven hours for her 30-year-old son, who arrived at the airport from Iran early Saturday morning according to Hwang.
The woman received asylum in the U.S. six years ago and is hoping her son will as well.
“Based on his religion, he is being persecuted and is in grave danger if he does go back,” Hwang said.
Saturday evening, Hwang said customs officials released one woman from Iran with a Green card after they held and questioned her.
One person, a San Jose woman who asked not to be identified, stood on the side of the protest with a sign that said, “I tutor refugees.” She said she had just started with the program in Los Altos last week and was working with a 60-year-old woman from Iran.
“She’s so eager to learn English,” she said. “She’s just so passionate about learning.”
“As a Christian, I think that what’s happening is not acceptable, that’s not what Christ was teaching us,” the woman said. “And that’s why I decided to teach refugees and that’s why I’m here today.”
The protesters chanted “racists out, refugees in” and sang “This Land is Your Land.”
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SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said he was aware of Saturday’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,” Yakel said.
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 e-mails to the national Customs and Border Protection public affairs office were not returned.
A U.S. federal law enforcement official said any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen would be barred from entering the United States.
That covers legal permanent residents — green card holders — and visa-holders from those seven countries who are out of the United States after Friday, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order with the temporary ban. They cannot return to the U.S. for 90 days.
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