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Protesters decry Trump’s refugee ban during a busy week for dissenters

Protesters gathered in cities like New York at the weekend to protest President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travelers from several majority Muslim countries in the Middle East. (Associated Press)

January 30, 2017

With apologies to the 1960s, this may be the golden age of protesting.

Tens of thousands of protesters converged on airports, parks and state capitols across the country Sunday to decry President Trump’s temporary refugee ban, the largest anti-Trump mass protest since the previous weekend, when hundreds of thousands gathered for the Women’s March on Washington.

In between, there were multicity rallies against the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, the nomination of Betsy DeVos as head of the federal education department and the administration’s directive on sanctuary cities.

There was even a mass conservative protest — Friday’s 44th annual March for Life that drew hundreds of thousands to Washington — an anomaly in the wave of anti-Trump activism that Republicans have described as the permanent protest culture of the left.

As KOIN-TV reported after Saturday’s rally, “Another anti-Trump protest marches through Portland.”

Never have so many protested so visibly against one president in such a short period of time, and it may be only the beginning. Trump has promised to follow through quickly on enacting his campaign pledges, just as he did last week with his string of executive orders.

Airport terminals in a dozen major cities were clogged over the weekend with protesters waving signs and chanting slogans such as, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here.” New York taxi drivers refused to pick up passengers for an hour Saturday night at John F. Kennedy Airport.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh egged on hundreds of demonstrators Saturday at Logan International Airport, using a megaphone to urge them to attend a rally Sunday at Copley Square “to stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

Sen. Cory Booker, (D-NJ.), told a crowd at Dulles International Airport that “this will be an ongoing battle.”

 

“I’m telling you now that this is going to be a long, arduous and tough fight. And let me tell you right now, we have to be determined to continue to fight,” Booker said in video posted by Reuters.

The mass activism drew exasperation from Trump administration officials, who characterized the outcry as an overreaction to a routine screening delay.

“I know that in some cases there’s going to be a bit of an inconvenience,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer told ABC-TV’s “This Week,” but said that Trump “is not going to apologize for putting the safety of this country first and foremost.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said about 300 people were detained or prevented from accessing aircraft overseas Saturday on the first day of the executive order out of roughly 325,000 travelers from overseas.

“That’s 1 percent. And I think in terms of the upside being greater protection of our borders, of our people, it’s a small price to pay,” Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I am told by the officials that anyone who’s been detained, if there’s no further threat, if they’re not dangerous to this country, they can expect to be released in due course, as most of them have already.”

She said she herself had been stopped many times for security checks after the terrorist attack Sept. 11, 2001. “If they’re vetted, it’s a routine screening process they will go through,” she said.

Driving the activism against the refugee moratorium is a network of liberal-to-left funders, Democrat organizers, labor unions and advocacy groups such as ThinkProgress, which issued early Sunday a list of about 50 protest sites nationwide. The Democratic National Committee has also funded some protests.

Among those organizing events was the Council on American-Islamic Relations, as well as groups such as the Americans for Refugees and Immigrants and the Women’s March.

A dozen immigration and civil rights groups put out the call for lawyers to assist foreign travelers detained at airports for additional questioning. Hundreds of legal professionals answered the call, exceeding the 109 people who were actually delayed by security after arriving at U.S. airports.

Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said advocates for those detained are still trying to figure out how many people will be affected by the travel order.

U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly issued an emergency stay late Saturday to halt deportations of those detained upon entry under the executive order in reaction to a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal organizations.

“We’re really in a crisis mode, a constitutional crisis mode in our country, and we’re going to need everyone,” Ms. Hincapie told The Associated Press. “This is definitely one of those all-hands-on-deck moments.”

Sixteen Democrat attorneys general announced Saturday they would join the legal fight to challenge the executive order, which bans entry for 90 days from natives of seven mostly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and suspends all refugees from entering the country for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

“Let me be clear — discrimination based on national origin is illegal,” said Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Conservative author David Horowitz described the uproar as “fake news,” writing, “Trump ‘created chaos.’ More than 300K people came into the US yesterday. 109 were stopped. 81 of those were let through.”

Rick Tyler, former spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, said that “people are detained and questioned all the time,” and asked why the same protesters have failed to agitate for civil rights violations committed in the seven Muslim-majority countries named in the temporary ban.

“In these seven countries, in not one of them are you allowed to celebrate Christmas or Easter publicly,” Tyler told MSNBC. “And it’s wonderful that these people are protesting, but I never hear them protest about that, about women’s rights and Christian rights in these countries that Donald Trump has said he’s put a ban on travel on.”