Updated 9:30 a.m. Sunday-- Scores of demonstrators filled the Great Hall at Denver International Airport on Saturday afternoon, adding to a wave of pro-refugee protests that broke out at airports around the country.
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President Donald Trump issued an executive order on Friday that temporarily bars refugees and citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- from entering the United States.
Standing in the main terminal where people wait for travelers arriving by train from the airport's concourses Saturday, the protesters sang "Refugees are welcome here," some holding signs declaring their identity — such as Jew or Christian — and the phrase "I come in peace."
DIA requires any such gathering to get a permit, which this demonstration did not have. A little before 6 p.m., organizers urged the crowd to disperse and avoid arrest.
One organizer, Amal Kassir, told The Associated Press the group was there to welcome a traveler named Omar from the East Coast. Some people chanted "Welcome home Omar."
"It was sort of like the women's march last week. It just felt good that we were doing something," said Nancy Elkind, an immigration attorney at the protest. "At least I felt not helpless."
Immigration lawyers answered a call Saturday morning on Facebook to head out to the airport, and “there was a huge response,” Elkind. They talked about the need for legal assistance, interpreters and even a social worker at the airport. In the end the Facebook post led about 15-20 Colorado immigration lawyer and associates to head to DIA.
“We figured out which international flights were coming on, and when. We were most concerned about a British Airways flight from London and a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt,” she said. “We weren’t exactly sure what we were going to accomplish. We let Customs and Border Protection — CBP — know we were there.”
Denver has some direct international flights but it's not clear whether anyone has been detained under the president's executive order barring the entry of citizens from the seven nations. Elkind said she spoke with family members at the airport and discovered there would be travelers from Iran and Syria aboard the Lufthansa flight. None were allowed to call attorneys but they were allowed to call relatives.
The New York Times has posted the text of Trump’s executive order here. NPR posted a statement from the State Department that says, in part, "If you are a citizen of one of these countries, please do not schedule a visa appointment or pay any visa fees at this time. If you already have an appointment scheduled, please DO NOT ATTEND. You will not be permitted entry to the Embassy/Consulate."
The Associated Press and NPR contributed to this story.
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