Thousands gathered throughout the country's airports this weekend to protest against President Trump's travel ban, an executive order to ban citizens of Muslim-majority regions from entering the U.S.
According to the executive order, citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen will not be able to enter the U.S. for the next 90 days, affecting the lives of over 218 million individuals. The ban will also temporarily suspend all refugees from entering the U.S. for the next 120 days.
“This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” said Trump in a statement released on Sunday. “There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order. We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days.”
As stated by the Department of Homeland Security, the order has also barred green card holders from re-entering the United States, requiring each individual to obtain a case-by-case waiver to return. From the seven barred countries, an estimated 500,000 people have received U.S. green cards in the last decade, putting thousands at risks of not being able to return home to their lives and families.
Since the order was signed on Friday evening, it has been estimated that 109 travelers have been denied entry into the U.S. after landing at a U.S. airport, and another 173 individuals have been denied entry to the country before even boarding the plane.
“The executive orders done by Trump are unfair for the Muslims and for the refugees,” said Firas Arodaki, a member of the Syrian refugees office at the East African Community of Orange County. “As a person who deals first hand with Syrian refugees, they do their best to be successful and make up what they lost during the war that Assad regime initiated on his people. Their priority is to educate their children because there was at least four years lost in their academic years. The Syrian refugee parents wouldn't have accepted to travel thousands of miles to a country that speaks another language and has a different culture, but they did so because they want the best education for their kids.”
For the second weekend in Trump's two-week presidency, another mass protest has erupted. Protesters chanted “Let them in!” throughout the country's airports while carrying anti-Trump signs and welcoming international arrivals. Legal representatives rushed to the to aid of those being detained at the airports to lend their services, claiming that Trump's ban is unconstitutional and a violation of their right to religious freedom and due processing.
“I think that a ban on travel from the seven countries is not right,” said Nina Doyle, a 22-year-old University of La Verne student. “While I can understand that America does not want terrorists to enter our country, there has to be a much better way than marginalizing an entire group of people based off of where they were born and their religious beliefs. I grew up being taught that America opened its doors to refugees and immigrants instead of closing them.”
Lawsuits are already beginning to be filed against the government. The Council on American-Islamic Relations and American Civil Liberties Union have announced that they will also be suing, claiming the ban discriminates against religion.
“Muslims students who come to the U.S. through a visa bring the amazing values the U.S. has to their countries, especially diversity and inclusiveness,” said Arodaki. “We, as an American society, widen our horizon when we meet them and know about their religion, which is based on peace. Their greeting is 'Peace be upon you.' Wouldn't we need that among ourselves?”
Cover Image via Christopher Penler / Shutterstock, Inc.