5,000 Demonstrators Gather at Philly International Airport to Protest Travel Ban - NBC 10 Philadelphia
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5,000 Demonstrators Gather at Philly International Airport to Protest Travel Ban

The protest is causing a major traffic jam on I-95 North and South approaching the airport.

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    Thousands of demonstrators protested Sunday against President Donald Trump's immigration travel ban. NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas has the details. (Published Monday, Jan. 30, 2017)

    Around 5,000 protesters gathered at Philly International Airport Sunday afternoon to rally, for a second day, on behalf of immigrants who were detained under President Trump's recent executive action restricting access through America's borders.

    Sunday's protest at the airport began at 2 p.m. Police say around 5,000 people took part in the demonstration. At least one person was arrested during the protest for a minor offense, according to NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas. He later returned to the protest less than two hours later.

    Airport officials said the International Arrivals Hall in Terminal A West was at capacity. Additional demonstrators were being directed to baggage claim. Immigration Ban Hangs Over Philadelphia AirportImmigration Ban Hangs Over Philadelphia Airport

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    "This is what democracy looks like," the protesters chanted.

    The protesters held signs that included the messages, "#NoBanNoWall." They demanded that airlines take a stand against Trump's executive order. They also gave letters asking airline officials to make a "moral choice" and "side with humanity."

    Local lawmakers also attended Sunday's demonstrations and stood side by side with protesters.

    "The big thing for me is that instead of us having a process that is orderly and makes sense, we instead have confusion and fear," said Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D, Del.). "And that's the last thing we need right now."

    Rep. Bob Brady (D, Pa.) also protested at the airport Sunday.

    "This can't be happening in the United States of America," Brady said. "This is a free country. Free for all. They've been vetted, they have visas, they're ready for green cards. They've been vetted for months and months and months! That's not right. And that's what this is about, to make sure that they hear our voices."

    Rep. Dwight Evans (D, Pa.) criticized Trump's executive order on social media and stood with Sunday's protesters as well.

    "Our goal is to repeal that executive order," Evans said. "It's wrong to do profiling of people. And this is profiling of people."

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    The protesters first demonstrated inside the airport and then marched outside, creating traffic problems on I-95 approaching PHL. SEPTA suspended bus service to the airport due to the protest. Service was later restored.

    The demonstration lasted for about five hours before the protesters finally left.

    Sunday's protest followed a quickly formed event the day before when several travelers were detained or turned away at customs after arriving to Philadelphia.

    An attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania told NBC10 Saturday at least five people were detained under an executive order signed Friday evening by President Donald Trump that immediately put restrictions on travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries and temporarily halted a refugee program for Syrian immigrants. Three of the detainees were adults from Qatar, according to the ACLU.

    City officials told NBC10's Aundrea Cline-Thomas that one of the men has worked as an interpreter for the U.S. government.

    Sunday afternoon, Philadelphia Mayor Kenney announced all of the detainees who were at PHL were released in the morning.

    Mayor Kenney, Gov. Tom Wolf, Senator Bob Casey (D - Pa.) and Rep. Brady joined demonstrators at the airport Saturday calling for intervention on behalf of the immigrants.

    "These are people who have gone through all the hurdles and they have chosen to come and live with us here in Pennsylvania," Wolf said. "And I say to them you are welcome here."

    The four were joined by civil rights attorneys, more than 150 protesters holding signs and chanting, as well as City Councilwoman Helen Gym and federal lawmakers incised by the effects of the immigration ban.

    "Hey, hey! Ho, ho! The Muslim ban has got to go," the demonstrators shouted.

    Two Syrian families who arrived at Philly International Airport were also briefly detained Saturday and sent back on a return 18-hour flight to the Middle East.

    Sarah Assali, a family member of those six Syrians, attended Sunday's demonstration at the airport.

    "Seeing this much support, it brings hope that our family will be able to come and be welcome," Assali said.

    After Saturday's protest began, a federal judge granted an injunction in response to a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal organizations on behalf of individuals subject to President Trump's Muslim ban.

    The stay blocks anyone with a valid visa being held at airports from being deported. However, the stay only applies to those currently within the U.S., but not to anyone who tries to come to the U.S. going forward. It also does not mean detainees will be released, only that they can't be deported, according to ACLU attorneys.

    The protest was one of several at major air hubs around the country. Throngs of people gathered outside John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City where 12 refugees were detained Saturday. The protests continued nationwide Sunday.

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    Thousands Gather at PHL to Protest Travel Ban Thousands Gather at PHL to Protest Travel Ban

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