Hundreds protest at SFO in response to immigration order

An emergency stay was granted by a federal judge in New York this evening blocking deportations from President Donald Trump's executive order banning entry into the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority countries after a day when protesters swarmed airports nationwide, including hundreds in San Francisco International Airport.

The protesters gathered at 3 p.m. at SFO after news broke Friday that Trump's order had taken effect immediately, with refugees and people from affected nations being stopped and detained at airports.

Police at first kept the protesters on the sidewalk, but as the crowd grew they spilled into the street blocking all traffic at the international arrivals terminal.

They later swarmed into the terminal as immigration advocate attorneys tried to access people detained inside. The protesters chanted, "Let the families out, let the lawyers in.

" The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it was taking legal action on behalf of two individuals detained in New York under the order.

The ACLU said this evening that an emergency stay had been granted by a federal judge, blocking deportations from the order.

The National Council for American Islamic Relations said it would be filing suit on behalf of 20 more individuals on Monday.

Trump's order bans citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country and blocks any refugees from entering for 120 days.

Refugees from Syria are blocked indefinitely. Lara Kiswani, an organizer with the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said earlier today, "We have lawyers currently at SFO. What we're not clear about is who or what type of families are being held, whether they're from Syria or Iran or other countries, we don't know for certain."

Attorney Susie Hwang said there were about a dozen attorneys who arrived at the airport's International Terminal in response to a call from the International Refugee Assistance Project asking attorneys to help immigrants being detained at airports across the country.

"I'm concerned about the abuse of law and the disregard for the constitution," Hwang said of Trump's order.

Hwang said several families have been at the airport waiting for several hours to hear word about whether their loved ones will be allowed to leave the airport or returned back to their countries.

According to Hwang, one woman had been waiting for hours for her 30-year-old son, who arrived at the airport from Iran early this morning.

The woman received asylum in the U.S. six years ago and is hoping her son will as well.

"Based on his religion, he is being persecuted and is in grave danger if he does go back," Hwang said.

This evening, Hwang said customs officials released one woman from Iran with a Green card after they held and questioned her. One person, a San Jose woman who asked not to be identified, stood on the side of the protest with a sign that said, "I tutor refugees."

She said she had just started with the program in Los Altos last week and was working with a 60-year-old woman from Iran. "She's so eager to learn English," she said. "She's just so passionate about learning."

"As a Christian, I think that what's happening is not acceptable, that's not what Christ was teaching us," the woman said.

"And that's why I decided to teach refugees and that's why I'm here today."

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said he was aware of today's protest, but referred any questions about enforcement of the order to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "Our goal is to allow for this free speech activity while also ensuring travelers are able to move through the Airport unimpeded," Yakel said.

Frank Falcon, a local Customs and Border Protection spokesman, referred questions about local enforcement of the order to the agency's national office, declining to say whether the agency was even enforcing the order in Bay Area airports.

Calls and emails to the national Customs and Border Protection public affairs office were not returned.