In a swift and impassioned response to President Trump’s ban on refugees, about 700 outraged Bay Area residents descended on San Francisco International Airport on Saturday to protest the controversial executive order that left many refugees detained at airports nationwide.
Although U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials denied they were holding any travelers at SFO, Palo Alto lawyer Susie Hwang said she knew of three visitors from Iran — a 30-year-old man and an elderly couple — who were still being detained Saturday evening after their flights.
“Their families were picking them up” (at SFO), Hwang said. “They’re not allowed any contact and they’ve taken (the man’s) phone.”
The man is here on a legitimate fiancé visa, according to Hwang. The couple is here on tourist visas to visit their children.
After the SFO demonstration outgrew the terminal, protesters moved outside to the curb, hoisting red, white and blue signs. One said, “give us your huddled masses,” while others read, “We will resist Trump’s hate” and “Let them in.”
“I don’t know why they are scared of my faith,” said protester Marwa Ahmed of Santa Clara. “My faith is beautiful.”
For human rights lawyer Kathy Roberts, 46, it was about highlighting the plight of refugees, whom she called “some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”
“I think it’s really important for people not to buy into the idea that refugees are a threat,” she said. “Refugees are people like Anne Frank, like all of the Jews that we turned away during the second World War, many of whom ended up being killed.”