Protesters flocked to JFK Airport on Saturday afternoon, as news came in of more than a dozen immigrants and refugees held in the airport.
“We will fight — we will stay until everyone is released,” Menchaca said. “These are our families. They came for Jews, and they’re coming for our Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Security was thick inside the airport Saturday. And outside, dozens officers from multiple agencies — the New York State Police, the Port Authority Police, the NYPD — surrounded the growing crowd of protesters.
Many of the cars driving past honked their support. “I’m Facebook Live-ing this!” said one driver, sticking her phone out the window as she drove by.
Trump’s executive order, signed Friday, bans people from certain countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The countries were not named in the order, but several news outlets reported them as Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Iran, Yemen and Sudan. The order also indefinitely suspends the entry of Syrian refugees, and bans the resettlement of refugees from any country for four months.
Council Member Menchaca — as well as a slew of other local politicians, civil-rights orgs and attorneys — said they were working with Customs and Border Protection officials at JFK to try and secure the release of 10 to 12 immigrants and refugees blocked from leaving the airport Saturday.
Outside Terminal 4, protest chants included: “Hey hey, JFK, no more fascist USA!”; “Hey hey, ho ho, the Muslim ban has got to go!”; and “No ban, no wall, Donald Trump has got to fall.”
Reports were coming in Saturday of dozens more people detained at airports around the country.
Around 3:30 p.m., Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, gave an update to the crowd.
She said that to her knowledge, 10 people from Trump’s banned countries were still being detained inside JFK. However, she said Customs officials were refusing to release their names or identities — making it nearly impossible to take legal action on their behalf.
The ACLU did file a lawsuit Saturday, though, on behalf of two of the detained immigrants: Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, both from Iraq.
Darweesh worked on behalf of the U.S. in Iraq for 10 years and holds a visa, the lawsuit said. Alshawi was coming to America to join his wife and young son, who live in Houston.
After pressure from politicians and protesters, Darweesh was eventually released from detention Saturday afternoon. “This is the humanity, this is the soul of America,” he said upon release.
U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler, one of the first politicians to show up to JFK Saturday, was present to welcome Darweesh to America. He called Trump’s anti-immigrant order “discriminatory” and “quite disgusting,” and said it “goes against every ounce of our traditions.”
This is a developing story.