Protesters Gather At South Florida Airports To Decry Trump's Immigration Order

Jan 29, 2017

Americans gathered at a number of U.S. airports over the weekend – including Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport – to protest President Donald J. Trump’s order to keep many foreigners out of the country.

Shouting slogans like "No Hate No Fear, Immigrants Are Welcome Here," an estimated 300 people braved a cold rain outside the main MIA terminal to decry Trump's controversial immigration ban.

The executive order Trump issued last week bars all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days. It stops citizens of seven mostly Middle Eastern countries from coming here for 90 days. Trump calls it a U.S. security measure. But the hundreds of MIA protesters called it a discriminatory move against Muslims. 

Haneen Ismail, a Jordanian-American student, said she went to the protest at Miami International Airport to be the voice of "my brothers and sisters in other countries that don't have voice."
Credit Tim Padgett / WLRN News

“I’m giving my brothers and sisters in the other countries that don’t have a voice, I’m being their voice today," said Broward College accounting student Haneen Ismail, who is Jordanian-American. (Jordan is not on the ban list.)

"It’s obvious that this is a racist ban. This is over all hatred toward Muslims.”

Miami software systems analyst Michael Keshani said his parents were born in Iran – one of the seven Muslim-majority countries on the ban list. He added he's not surprised federal judges began blocking Trump’s order over the weekend.

“I’ve always been an American," Keshani said. "As Americans we’ve always been caring, and it’s just right for us to show that we care about the world, we care about people.”

Mikaela Kursell, from Deerfield Beach, said President Trump’s sudden executive actions to ban refugees, left her in distress. She's an American citizen born in Canada with a mixed European background.

"We are an international community, and we do what we can to accept everyone who come here in good will,” Kursell said. “I'm in shock from what our President has done, in the matter of overnight with executive orders and possibly unethically and illegally. He's just increasing tensions around the world and inside United States.”

Marcia Olivo, of the Miami Workers Center joined the hundreds of protesters at Miami International Airport. She says she worries for the safety of women immigrants in the country illegally.

“I do a lot of work with women survivors of domestic violence, and I know that many of them are afraid of calling police when being abused, because of the fear of being put in jail and being deported,” Olivo said.

Lawyers from ACLU Fl. and Community Justice Project Miami were at MIA International, as well as Democratic state senator Jose Javier Rodriguez.

“The folks who are fleeing war to come to our country are innocent, are our allies. They’re working with us, we rely on them, we need them here and we welcome them here. This is completely absurd,” Rodriguez said, about the bans.

Protesters at Fort Lauderdale International Airport protested peacefully outside baggage claim at Terminal 4.
Credit Lauren Singer / Courtesy

Unlike airports like JFK in New York, Miami International is not seeing many controversial cases regarding the immigration order, such as automatic deportations. That’s because most foreign arrivals here are from Latin America, which has no countries on the list.

But an Iranian-born chemical engineer who has a U.S. green card (legal residency) posted Facebook reports Sunday that U.S. Customs officials detained him at Port Everglades in Broward County after he returned from a cruise. He was later released.

More than 100 protesters were also present on Terminal 4 of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and around 200 congregated at the Arrivals Terminal of the Palm Beach International Airport on Sunday afternoon to protest the Trump administration decision.