By John Lynds
Loudly chanting slogans like “Let Them In” and “This is What Democracy Looks Like” hundreds of protesters, including dozens of East Boston residents, descended upon Logan International Airport’s Terminal E Saturday night to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending the U.S. refugee program as well as the temporary banned entry by nationals from seven Muslim countries.
Caught up in the executive order were students, doctors, scientists that were all detained here in Boston and across the U.S. Many have already undergone a strict vetting process to either study or live as permanent residents in the U.S.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Martin Walsh, Rep. Adrian Madaro and Sen. Joseph Boncore quickly joined the protesters. Boston mayoral candidate Tito Jackson was also on hand at the protest.
“Tonight we fight for American values at airports all across this country,” Sen. Warren told the crowd. “I’m at Logan Airport tonight to say: our diversity makes our country strong. We will not allow a Muslim ban in the United States of America.
The impromptu protest began after media outlets starting reporting that up to half dozen people were being detained at Logan. Authorities questioned one detainee, Hamed Hosseini Bay, a postdoctoral scholar in biomedical engineering at Tufts, for several hours after returning to Boston from Iran. He was later released before 10 p.m. after federal judges in Brooklyn and Boston order a temporary ‘stay’ to Trump’s executive order.
“Preventing people from entering this country based solely on faith runs counter to everything we stand for as Americans,” said Mayor Walsh. “Let’s be clear: this is not an effective way to combat terrorism and increase homeland security. It is a reckless policy that is rooted in fear, not substance, and further divides us as a nation and a world. It is simply morally wrong. As Americans, we must move forward together as a country proud of our diverse heritage, and find real solutions to the challenges we face.”
Protests quickly broke out around the nation with protests being staged at airports across the country.
Rep. Madaro and Sen. Boncore headed down to check on the statuses of Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam. The two Iranian doctors are engineering professors at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. According to reports the two had been in Paris for a conference on sustainable engineering and were detained at Boston’s Logan Airport for four hours Saturday. A judge ruled that the executive order could not prevent the two, permanent residents for more than a decade, from coming home.
“We were proud to stand with Mayor Walsh and our colleagues this weekend at Logan Airport in protest of the unlawful detention of Doctors Louhghalam and Tootkaboni and others,” said Madaro and Boncore in a joint statement. “Trump’s order banning travel from certain Muslim nations serves only to harm those seeking refuge violence and oppression. The Federal Court reflected this sentiment when it halted the order. Our nation is rooted in the protection and acceptance of those seeking freedom and Boston will not back down from this position.”
Also at the protests were longtime community leaders and activists like Gail Miller, Magdalena Ayed, Gloribell Mota and Lydia Edwards.
By Monday, as the protests nationwide grew, Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates directed her department not to defend Trump’s executive order. She was fired and replaced by Dana Boente.
A protester holds a sign in solidarity with the dozens of people detained at Logan Airport over the weekend from predominately Muslim countries.
Hundreds of protesters descended upon Logan Airport Saturday.
A protester holds up a sign with words from Martin Niemöller’s famous quote about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
Protesters ask for no bans on immigrants and refugees and no walls.
This little girl spent the night with her parents at Logan Airport with a sign that reads ‘No Hate, No Fear”.
The protesters listen to Sen. Elizabeth Warren speak.
One protester said Boston would welcome refugees.
A Jewish protester stands in solidarity with Muslims.
This protester holds up the Statue of Liberty’s slogan.