By 6 p.m. Sunday, a few hundred people had gathered outside Terminal 5 to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration ban. Promising a protest as large as Saturday night’s, Hatem Abudayyah, of the Arab American Action Network, addressed the crowd at a press conference.
“Last night we proved that the power of the people can make a difference and learned late in the evening that the O’Hare detainees had been freed,” Abudayyah said. “Tonight, there will be thousands again out here calling on Trump to rescind his executive order and for the release of all detainees across Chicago and the country.”
His words were met with cheers from the hundreds of people who came to protest. “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” they chanted, carrying signs calling for Trump’s executive order to be canceled.
They cheered as Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia addressed the crowd.
“Cook County is a fair and welcoming county and we have every intention of remaining that because that’s what makes our county great and that’s what makes our country great,” he said. “There is no room in our country for any hatred or religious intolerance or discrimination. It is unAmerican.”
Rep. Jan Schakowsky was at O’Hare for the second night to oppose the detaining of people as a result of the executive order. She brought up Friday’s practice of Holocaust Remembrance Day to recognize the 6 million Jews who were killed and to remember it as a time when “the U.S. sent people back to their death by closing the border.”
Other public officials who came to oppose the immigration ban included Jesse Jackson Sr., Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd), state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and state Rep. Theresa Mah, who spoke about her experience being raised by an immigrant family.
“I’m the proud daughter and granddaughter of immigrants,” Mah said. “I am also a former history professor, and I know that in 1942, the U.S. locked up 120,000 Japanese-Americans in internment camps because of an executive order. Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it, so let’s remember in the U.S. to welcome American citizens. . . . We are an immigrant country.”
On Sunday evening, a few hundred protesters had gathered outside Terminal 5, a smaller crowd than seen on Saturday. Traffic was still able to get through the terminal. Some people went inside to warm up.
Dozens of lawyers inside huddled around tables across from the McDonald’s near the terminal. Attorney Matt Pryor said it is unclear how many people were detained at the airport today, but one person who was detained will be sent back to their country on Monday.
Attorneys said they are still working to get more information on how many people are being detained and where they are from, and they will return Monday to help other detainees.
Earlier Sunday, friends and relatives waited anxiously at O’Hare Airport for international passengers arriving Sunday.
Some people waited hours without word about their friends and relatives arriving at Terminal 5.
A crowd, waving signs such as “Let them in,” welcomed passengers into the terminal.
A Lebanese man with an American passport was held more than three hours before being released about 3:30 p.m. Sunday. He said more than 20 others were still being detained.
Barius Elhalabi, 19, said agents asked him, “Do you love your country?”
Elhalabi said everyone was told cellphones would be confiscated if used.
A Syrian family with three small children waited hours for three travelers, all with U.S. green cards. One of the three graduated from Loyola University-Chicago in December, his family said. He was accepted to dental school at Indiana.
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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan joined with 15 other attorneys general Sunday to condemn the executive order on immigration as unconstitutional.
“As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, unAmerican and unlawful executive order and will work together to ensure the federal government obeys the Constitution, respects our history as a nation of immigrants, and does not unlawfully target anyone because of their national origin or faith,” the attorneys general said in a joint statement.
“We are confident that the executive order will ultimately be struck down by the courts. In the meantime, we are committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created.”
In an emailed statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote: “. . . in the coming days my family and I will host DREAMers attending Chicago Public Schools and Chicago City Colleges for a meal, a conversation, and a recognition and celebration of all that unites us, rather than what divides us. I am asking every interested resident of the City of Chicago to join us by hosting a similar meal in your own homes and at restaurants in your own neighborhoods, or by sharing welcoming words through a phone call or email. . . . Let’s show the world that the City of Big Shoulders is also a city of big hearts.”
Richard Goldwasser, one of the attorneys with the American Immigration Lawyers Association who volunteered to represent travelers, called Sunday a “new reality” due to the uncertainty that followed the executive order.
“A lot of people thought, ‘Oh, OK well they released the people being held last night, so all is good,” Goldwasser said. “But our sense even last night was that they were only going to apply the stay to people in transit. It’s going to be a new reality this morning.”
“We’re not sure how the Department of Homeland Security is going to actually implement [the executive order],” he said. “My conversations with Customs and Border Protection suggested to me that they will be enforcing the order against new arrivals today.”
“Just because I was fortunate enough to be born in the United States doesn’t make me more entitled to it than immigrants,” McCarty said. “I’m hoping the movement across the United States will speak volumes and make changes happen long term, not just temporary stays.”
McCarty said she believes it’s a good sign to see so many protesters filling streets and airports around the country.
“It’s empowering,” McCarty said. “I think people are starting to realize that they need to take a stand for what’s right, and we’re hoping that our voices are going to be heard between the Women’s March and now this.