O'HARE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel's name evoked boos and hisses from hundreds of demonstrators outside O'Hare Airport when a speaker mentioned his name. Few realized he had joined them.
The mayor ducked into the airport's international terminal Sunday, shook hands with volunteer attorneys and called on residents across the city to host refugees and immigrants in their homes as an act of defiance to President Donald Trump's restrictive executive order.
Trump's order, signed on Friday, suspended all U.S. refugee resettlement for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked travel into the United States for three months for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
On Saturday, after more than 1,000 protesters marched inside and outside the terminal, Emanuel released a statement saying the travel restrictions had "tarnished America’s standing as a beacon of hope for the free world."
The next evening, he bypassed the crowds and made for the dozens of volunteer lawyers who had set up a makeshift office at a McDonald's in the terminal. He huddled and shook hands with organizers, asking which law firms they represented.
Some volunteers held up signs in Arabic and Farsi offering counsel to travelers who had been detained, while others huddled around laptops drafting legal documents on their behalf.
"I want to thank all the lawyers here who are assuring people that when they come, what they're met with is support, security and safety," Emanuel said. "That's who we are and that is what we're doing."
Meanwhile, officials from the city's Aviation Department, which runs operations at the airport, dropped off a shipment of coffee and pastries for the lawyers.
While Emanuel was at the airport, his office released a statement saying he would host immigrants in his home who had been granted legal status under the state's DREAM Act.
"At a moment of unease and vulnerability for so many, let's come together as a city and put action behind our words and the values we hold dear as a welcoming city," the statement read.
Emanuel and the City Council last week affirmed Chicago's status as a "sanctuary city," which bars local law enforcement from helping federal officials identify or deport undocumented immigrants. Trump has threatened to withhold federal funding from the city over its status.
Here is Emanuel's statement:
"One hundred years ago, the people of Chicago opened their hearts and their homes to my grandfather when he immigrated to this great city, fleeing the pogroms of Eastern Europe in search of freedom and opportunity. In that spirit, in the coming days my family and I will host DREAMers attending Chicago Public Schools and Chicago City Colleges for a meal, a conversation, and a recognition and celebration of all that unites us, rather than what divides us.
"I am asking every interested resident of the City of Chicago to join us by hosting a similar meal in your own homes and at restaurants in your own neighborhoods, or by sharing welcoming words through a phone call or email. At a moment of unease and vulnerability for so many, let's come together as a city and put action behind our words and the values we hold dear as a welcoming city. Lets show the world that the City of Big Shoulders is also a city of big hearts."