Demonstrators converge on John Glenn airport to protest Trump's order
Hundreds of people gathered at John Glenn Columbus International Airport on Sunday, carrying signs and banners protesting President Donald Trump's immigration order and vowing to oppose it.
The protesters, joined by Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, met in response to Trump's temporary ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Trump signed executive orders on Friday banning travel to the United States by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and suspending the U.S. refugee program for 120 days.
Demonstrators waved signs, hoisted banners and yelled chants about the ban and the president's plan to build a wall along the Mexico border.
Ayman Refai didn't have a sign but instead hoisted his 6-year-old daughter, Jana, onto his shoulders.
Jana, wearing a pink-and-purple-striped hat and scarf, held a sign that she had decorated herself: "Refugees Should be Welcomed."
Refai, of Hilliard, took his family to the march, he said, because "we're just looking for justice." Refai is from Syria and moved to the United States decades ago so his children "could grow up in a safe place."
The Refais were front and center at the beginning of the march, which started near the McDonald's restaurant on International Gateway and ended near the airport's main terminal.
After about two hours, marchers entered the terminal and continued their demonstration.
The protest was one of many held across the United States over the weekend in response to Trump's actions.
Angela Plummer, executive director of Community Refugee and Immigration Services in Columbus, said the city has hundreds of people who probably will be affected by Trump's orders.
"My hope is Republican members of Congress stand up and talk about this as a moral travesty," Plummer said. "They need to pressure the administration and turn this around."
On Sunday, politicians spoke for and against the ban, petitions were signed calling for an end to it, and local immigration-services groups detailed the potential impact.
On Sunday afternoon, Trump released a statement: "America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe ... . We will again be issuing visas to all countries once we are sure we have reviewed and implemented the most secure policies over the next 90 days."
On Saturday, Parisa Fasihianifard, 24, touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York after a long trip from Tehran, Iran, to visit her husband, Mohamad Zandian, 26, an Iranian doctoral student at Ohio State University. She was detained at the airport and told she had to return to Iran.
By Sunday, she was permitted to enter the United States. Beatty said she was released as a result of "us standing together" and reaching out to colleagues.
OSU President Dr. Michael V. Drake emailed faculty members, students and staff members, saying "Ohio State joins our colleagues - including those represented in the Association of American Universities and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities - in concern over the effects of this policy."
Several Ohio State faculty members signed an online petition titled "Academics Against Immigration Executive Order."
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told CNN's State of the Union program on Sunday that Trump's order was not well thought out but that he supports more scrutiny of people entering the country.
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, said that "I urge the administration to quickly replace this temporary order with permanent improvements in the visa vetting process."
In a statement, Brown said, "Keeping America safe must be our top priority, and we do that by aggressively going after terrorism wherever it exists, not by turning our backs on children and families just like ours, whose only goal is to escape violence and persecution."
Before Trump signed the order, more than 67,000 refugees had been approved by the federal government to enter the United States, said Jen Smyers, refugee policy director for Church World Service. More than 6,400 had booked flights, including 15 families from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran, Syria and Uganda who had been expected over the next few weeks in the Chicago area.
On Saturday night, a federal judge in New York issued a temporary order blocking the government from deporting people with valid visas who arrived after Trump's travel ban took effect. But confusion remained about who could stay and who will be kept out of the country in the coming weeks.
An official with the Department of Homeland Security who briefed reporters by phone Saturday said 109 people who were in transit on airplanes had been denied entry and 173 had not been allowed to board their flights abroad.
No green-card holders had ultimately been prevented from entering the U.S. as of Saturday, the official said, although several spent hours in detention before being allowed in.
An hour into the march at the Columbus airport, Jen Gable, 31, of Franklinton, had lost her voice from shouting.
"Diversity is truly our greatest strength," she said.
The group came to the airport in solidarity with "the rest of the country that had protested at airports yesterday," said Reema Jallaq, who helped organize the march.
This article first appeared on January 29, 2017.