Tuesday, September 18

Thousands gather at LAX to protest Trump’s executive order


Thousands of people at Los Angeles International Airport protested President Donald Trump's executive order limiting the entry of refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)

Thousands of people at Los Angeles International Airport protested President Donald Trump's executive order limiting the entry of refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)


Thousands of people crowded into Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday to protest a recent executive order banning immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The crowd surrounded the arrivals gate, demanding the reversal of President Donald Trump’s order. Later, the protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office, which was closed for the day, and marched around the concourse outside.

The crowd chanted, “Donald Trump out, refugees in,” “Do the right thing and let them in,” and, “Love, not hate, makes America great.”

Trump signed the order Friday, barring all refugees from entering the United States. It also banned citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country temporarily, even if they have valid visas or green cards.

Lucy Blackmar, assistant vice provost for Undergraduate Education Initiatives, participated in the protest to resist Trump’s immigration policies.

“I think it is important that we vocally take a stand where our immigrants are coming into this country,” Blackmar said. “I think it’s going to require a lot of protesting to stand up to this president.”

More than 20 lawyers volunteered to represent the detainees at the airport. Working from a cafe next to the arrivals gate, they held signs in Arabic and Farsi telling people to contact them for help.

Caitlin Bellis, an attorney with the pro bono law firm Public Counsel, said three people were released from detention Sunday.

HyunJoo Lee, an immigration attorney at Public Counsel, said most of the 130 people detained Saturday were released. However, volunteer attorneys at LAX estimated about 40 people remained detained Sunday morning, and at least one was deported.

Neither Bellis nor Lee were able to confirm up-to-date information on detainees due to a lack of information from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michael Moore negotiated with protesters for half an hour to move them off the road at Los Angeles International Airport. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)
Los Angeles Police First Assistant Chief Michel Moore negotiated with protesters for half an hour to move them off the road at Los Angeles International Airport. (Jintak Han/Assistant Photo editor)

Advocacy groups and attorneys said some law enforcement officials refused to cooperate with providing detainees proper legal protection.

“We have heard from people that (detainees) are being coerced to sign voluntary departure agreements,” Lee said. “When they request to talk to an attorney, those requests were denied.”

Bellis said detainees are not allowed to use phones until they are released, and most information they gather comes from family members, not law enforcement. The lawyers plan to remain in the airport through Monday to aid any other detainees, Bellis added.

Federal court judge decisions on Saturday stayed parts of the order, keeping refugees from being deported and preventing deportation of permanent residents. The ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Trump on behalf of detainees at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The Department of Homeland Security separately issued a clarification a day later that the executive order should not affect permanent residents.

The University of California advised students and faculty to remain in the country as they analyze the effects of the executive order in a statement on Saturday.

[Related: UC responds to Trump’s executive order on immigration, refugees]

Melody Akbari, a graduate student at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, was one of many UCLA students who attended the protest. Her family is in the process of emigrating to the United States, and she said she is unsure whether or not her father, who holds dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship and is currently in Iran, will be able to enter the country.

“His whole family is here, we’re hoping he can come,” Akbari said. “The Anderson and UCLA family is so strong, and I felt so much support from them.”

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh sent a campuswide email Sunday afternoon to reassure the campus community and those directly affected by the order that the UC leadership stands by their core values of the free exchange of scholars, knowledge and ideas.

“We are actively engaged with the UC Office of the President to understand the full implications of the order and to find ways of protecting members of our community,” Block and Waugh said. “The integrity of our mission as a research university and the well-being of our campus’ community are paramount.”

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