Protests Against Immigration And Refugee Executive Orders Continue At Airports

Jan 29, 2017
Originally published on January 30, 2017 7:37 am
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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We've been reporting on the protests that have sprung up around the country against President Trump's executive order curtailing refugee resettlement and barring entry to the U.S. for citizens of certain countries. NPR's Kirk Siegler is at a protest at Los Angeles International Airport. Kirk, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Glad to be here, Michel.

MARTIN: So can you tell us what the scene is like there?

SIEGLER: Well, it's been steadily growing throughout the afternoon. In fact, protesters arrived here several hours before the scheduled time when this was to begin. They've now streamed out outside of the arrivals hall where they had been chanting and cheering at folks coming into the country. Now they're all standing out on the side. You can hear probably in the background people chanting no fear, immigrants are welcome here.

It's a very peaceful protest. And there are a lot of folks - it's interesting - talking in the crowd, milling around the crowd. A lot of folks say that they just felt compelled to come out, and they, you know, haven't always been engaged in protest before - until now. One woman I spoke with her name is D'nai Kingsley. She's Korean-American, and she told me why she came out here, so let's hear a little bit of that tape now.

D'NAI KINGSLEY: I never really consider myself an activist, but these sorts of things that are happening right now - we have to stand up. And if we don't stand up, then it normalizes.

SIEGLER: There are folks, Michel, out here chanting and holding signs saying immigrants are welcome, keep refugees safe, and so it's quite a dynamic scene now here in LAX.

MARTIN: Do you know if there are any people detained at that airport because of the executive order that was signed on Friday? And if so how many?

SIEGLER: We don't know the number. We do know that there have been people in here - and I'm told unofficially that there are still people inside behind the wall behind us here. There have been a number of folks coming in from Iran and Europe. There were reports of some being held. These are permanent residents with U.S. green cards.

I'd say it's a very fluid and sort of chaotic situation almost in the sense that there's really no information or no official information that we can really get at this time, at least from my vantage point. It's just clear that the protesters are here demanding that those - assuming there are people behind us - still being detained in the Customs and Border Patrol with Customs and Border Patrol officials they want them out.

MARTIN: Elsewhere at airports around the country, immigration lawyers have come out to make themselves known to family members and to support and offer counsel to those who may be detained. Are you seeing that at LAX?

SIEGLER: I am, Michel. There are attorneys everywhere here holding signs saying please come talk to me, talk to me with help. I just spoke with one not too long ago who told me that they were just, you know, trying to mill around this crowd and find family members of loved ones behind the barrier there who they believe were trapped back there. And some people have lost contact with them.

One woman, in fact, told me that she was so frustrated that the information that she's getting is actually coming from the Los Angeles Police Department and airport police officials here about how many people may be detained back there. And they're not getting anything from the Customs and Border Patrol officials who are actually in charge and the Department of Homeland Security.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Kirk Siegler at the international terminal of Los Angeles International Airport. That's where protesters have gathered to register their objections to the Trump administration's executive orders regarding immigration and refugee resettlement Thanks, Kirk.

SIEGLER: Thank you. Glad to be here. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.