Protesters Rush to SFO to Denounce Trump Ban Targeting Refugees

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Signs at a Saturday afternoon demonstration at San Francisco International Airport as protesters gathered to oppose detention of passengers arriving from Iran, Yemen and other Muslim nations.  (Eliza Gibson via Twitter)

Hundreds of people gathered at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday afternoon as word spread that some arriving passengers faced detention or deportation under President Donald Trump's ban on refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

The crowd, which included Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Google cofounder Sergey Brin, was joined by immigration lawyers seeking to help the detained passengers.

"Let the lawyers in, let the families out!" was one of many chants that echoed through the airport's international terminal. Many protesters carried signs that said, “We stand with Muslim Travelers” and “No Ban, No Wall” signs.

Amid the protest, families sat on the floor of SFO's international terminal waiting for loved ones reportedly stopped from entering the country.


One, Cupertino resident Ben Hosseini, said he had been at the airport since 6:30 a.m. waiting for his nephew.

“They (customs) have detained him and we don’t know what is going on," Hosseini said. Houseini added that his nephew holds a K-1 visa, a document that allows immigrants who plan to marry a U.S. citizen to legally stay in the country.

Lt. Gov. Newsom said he joined the protest to show his opposition to Trump's policy.

“I am disgusted like everyone else with this president,” he said.

Another high-profile attendee was Brin, the Google cofounder, who came to the United States as an emigre from the former Soviet Union.

"I'm here because I'm a refugee," Brin was quoted as saying.

Similar protests occurred at airports in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, all places where Customs and Border Protection agents had stopped arriving passengers and, in some cases, reportedly forced them to leave the country.

Trump's order, announced Friday, imposes a ban on refugees from all nations for 120 days and travelers from a select list of countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- for 90 days.

On Saturday evening, a federal judge in Brooklyn granted a limited stay of Trump's order.

Judge Ann M. Donnelly ruled that forcing those snared by the abrupt travel ban would cause them "irreparable harm." But she did not order those detained at U.S. airports freed, and it was not immediately clear whether those who had been denied entry -- including many who hold Green Cards granting permanent U.S. residency -- would be placed in detention.

The New York Times quoted Department of Homeland Security officials as saying Saturday evening that more than 280 people had been affected by the Trump immigration order:

Homeland Security officials said on Saturday night that 109 people who were already in transit to the United States when the order was signed were denied access; 173 were stopped before boarding planes heading to America. Eighty-one people who were stopped were eventually given waivers to enter the United States, officials said.

Cody Wofsy, a staff immigration attorney for the ACLU of Northern California who was at SFO Saturday night, said it was unclear how many of those involved were at the airport and how many might still be detained.

“Some families have been released, but we aren’t sure if it is because of the temporary stay or not,” Wofsy said. He said customs officials would not say how many people were still held up inside the terminal.

Below is a collection of social media and news coverage, mostly focused on the SFO protest.