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Activists, Aldermen Pack O'Hare For 'Emergency Protest' Of Travel Ban

January 28, 2017 4:16pm | Updated January 28, 2017 10:49pm
Protesters pack O'Hare Terminal 5 to demand the release of green card holders who had been detained because of President Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel.
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Photo courtesy of Jade Krueger

CHICAGO — Activist groups and elected officials drew hundreds of demonstrators to an "emergency protest" at O'Hare Airport's international terminal Saturday in response to President Donald Trump's executive action restricting travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.

Trump's order, signed on Friday, suspends all U.S. refugee resettlement for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocks travel into the U.S. for 90 days for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It will also stop green card holders from those seven countries from entering the U.S. again if they travel abroad.

Around 8:15 p.m., a federal judge in Brooklyn temporarily halted the deportation of visa-holders arriving at airports around the country.

A Facebook event that organized the protest saw more than a thousand RSVPs within hours of being posted by the Arab American Action Network Saturday afternoon.

Elected leaders at the local, county and state level reported joining in the demonstration. Aldermen Ameya Pawar (47th), Deb Mell (33rd), Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), Harry Osterman (48th) and John Arena (45th) all attended, according to organizers.

Cook County Board Commissioner Bridget Gainer, who represents a large slice of the city's North Side, said multiple travelers were detained at the airport Saturday.

Hundreds of demonstrators amassed at the airport, both inside and outside the arrivals terminal.

Since a swell of protesters gathered at John F. Kennedy Airport late Saturday morning, similar demonstrations have cropped up at international airport terminals around the country, including Dallas, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

At 9:40 p.m. Saturday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement saying Trump's executive order had "tarnished America’s standing as a beacon of hope for the free world," and calling for the release of green card holders who were detained.

Protesters at O'Hare cheered as travelers were released from custody one by one, until around 10 p.m., when volunteer lawyers reported that all the travelers had been freed.

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