In response to President Trump’s executive order on immigration, thousands of protesters rushed to airports around the country, including Chicago’s O’Hare airport, to show solidarity with those affected.
Among the many protesters braving the cold, sisters Noor and Saadia Malik expressed concern on how Muslims are being treated in the US and the growing hostilities under Trump.
“Family gatherings and attending our mosque is different. I fear that when we’re in large groups someone will attack us or that there will be an attempt to burn our mosque,” Noor Malik, a graduate student at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), said.
Malik said they gathered with thousands of protesters in Chicago and across the country to show solidarity with all Muslims that will be affected directly or indirectly through Trump’s executive order.
“There is a growing hatred towards Muslims since Trump’s nomination and it’s frightening,” Malik said.
The executive order is among the Trump administration’s first crucial decisions that seeks to fulfill his campaign promise of making the country safer.
It includes a 90-day immigration ban from the seven majority-Muslim countries and suspends the Syrian refugee program indefinitely.
The ban also subjects dual nationals from any of the seven countries, even if they hold a valid passport.
Trump has kept up with his campaign signature phrase by describing it as a necessity to “Make America Safe Again.”
Throughout the week, many notable Republicans and Trump faced harsh criticism for what many see as a “Muslim ban.”
Trump deflected this saying, “It’s not a Muslim ban” and tweeting “Everyone is arguing about whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of the country.”
A spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan went on saying, “This is not a religious test and it is not a ban on people of any religion.”
International Studies professor, Shailja Sharma sees the ban differently.
“It’s a Muslim ban because there is no absolute rational that unites these countries besides the fact that their citizens are (Muslims). These are not the only reasons that export terror,” Sharma said.
“One of the reasons given for this ban is to keep America safe after 2001, but Saudi Arabia is not on the list, Pakistan is not on the list, the countries that do business with Trump enterprise are not on the list. What we are seeing is really a populist move to stoke the Republican base and the way it’s doing that is by targeting Muslim nation states-not all Muslim states, but seven.”
Over the week, the ban was met with intense demonstrations at airports across the country.
The protesters were also joined by hundreds of lawyers who rushed to airports to provide pro-bono legal counseling to immigrants detained.
As more news of the ban continued, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) received up to 24.1 million dollars in donations by the end of the weekend as lawyers poured into airports and prepared to fight the ban.
One of the more controversial aspects of this ban is the confusion that followed green card holders.
In an interview on Chuck Todd on Meet the Press, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ensured viewers that green card holders have no reason to be worried saying, “As far as green card holders going forward, it doesn’t affect them.”
Priebus, however, is seen to be in contradiction with Homeland Security officials.
Officials have said greencard and legal visa holders would be affected by the executive order. A senior administration official has also said that greencard holders would need a case by case waiver to reenter the country.
Princeton University, University of Virginia, John Hopkins and George Washington University have all told students and faculty affected by the ban to refrain from traveling outside the United States because of worries of their ability to re-enter.
George Washington University has already had up to 74 affected students and staff members. One Syrian student who claims she will most likely finish her
Higher education institutions were not the only ones letting their disapproval for the ban be heard. Many tech companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Tesla made their disagreements with the order clear.
In an email to his employees, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said, “America is a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years. To our employees in the US and around the world who may be directly affected by this order, I want you to know that the full extent of Amazon’s resources are behind you.”
Political leaders abroad also took the incentive to denounce the ban.
Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey Numan Kurtulmus criticized the ban in a statement saying, “It is extremely offensive that such a decision was made in a country like the United States which is known as a nation with all different religions and ethnic groups in a melting pot.”
German Prime Minister, Angela Merkel’s spokesperson expressed concern about the ban.
“The necessary and decisive fight against terrorism in no way justifies a general suspicion against people of certain beliefs, in this case people of the Muslim faith or from a certain origin.These actions, according to my beliefs, are against the core idea of international aid for refugees and international cooperation,” the spokesperson said.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Zarif’s criticism was even more harsh as he described the ban as “a gift to the extremists.”
Over the weekend, the travel ban reached the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco.
Former George Bush appointee, Judge James Robart of the Federal District Court in Seattle banned the administration from enforcing two parts of the executive order. The two parts includes the 90 day suspension of the seven countries from entry to the country and its limits on accepting refugees which foils “any action that prioritizes the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.”
The decision, which came from the request of Minnesota and Washington, also allows people from the seven countries who had been authorized to travel and vetted refugees from all nations to enter the country.