WINDSOR LOCKS, CT — Hundreds gathered in the baggage claim area of Bradley International Airport on Sunday afternoon to condemn President Donald Trump’s executive order blocking arrivals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
On Saturday, the American Civil Liberties Union was successful in getting a federal judge to order a halt to deportations of all people stranded in U.S. airports under Trump’s executive order. But it’s a temporary solution, according to protesters who gathered Sunday at Bradley International Airport.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement Sunday that it will continue to enforce all of President Trump’s Executive Orders and that the “U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety.”
Bradley International Airport, which only has two international flights from Canada and Ireland, has not reported detaining any citizens from Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya, or Somalia. However, David McGuire, executive director of the Connecticut ACLU, said at least one Connecticut resident with a green card was detained at JFK Airport in New York, and it’s possible there are more.
“The victory we had last night was temporary and it was only for the people who were detained so they wouldn’t be deported,” McGuire said.
He encouraged protesters to stay involved because Trump’s executive order is “the most imminent threat to religious liberty.”
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who had just come from a remembrance of the Holocaust, said this is the same thing that was happening back in the 1930s and ‘40s.
“We cannot allow this to happen in a country of welcoming Americans,” Wyman said. “We are the best country in the world.”
Wyman was cheered by the part of the crowd that could hear her remarks.
“We were brought up that not one person, not one religion, not one color … we made this country great because it’s all of us,” Wyman said. “I cannot believe this president signed that paper.”
A woman in the crowd said, “he’s a jerk” and, “he doesn’t think.”
Wyman said she doesn’t even want to address that because “our country is made up of better people.”
Farhan Memon, who organized the Bradley protest as a member of the Council on American-Islamic-Connecticut, said the order was “discriminatory and racist” and they felt they needed to come out Sunday to show Connecticut doesn’t support it. Memon said he only put the announcement out at 9 p.m. Saturday night and was surprised by the turnout.
He felt the airport, even though it has not been involved in any of the detentions, is the new gateway to the United States when years ago it was Ellis Island in New York. He also warned that the stay issued by the federal judge was very narrow and they will have to continue to demonstrate.
“If the president is talking about a movement, this is the movement,” Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said. “I think the president was dealt a big blow this weekend. That we are not going to take this lying down.”
The protest spanned almost the entire length of the baggage claim area. Protestors were behind airport stanchions to make sure there was no interference with passengers returning from their destinations.
Attorney General George Jepsen, who was in a T-shirt and cargo shorts returning from a trip, said he stands ready to challenge any unconstitutional or illegal executive orders signed by Trump.
“You can count on us to do everything possible,” Jepsen said.
Connecticut’s other elected officials echoed similar statements.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted that he planned to introduce a bill this week that would essentially overturn Trump’s executive order by forcing him to comply with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which banned discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin.
“This executive order conflicts with rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, and it must be contested in our courts,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was away on a family vacation, said in a statement. “As a nation of immigrants, inclusivity and compassion are the hallmarks of who we are. We will not abandon our values. In the face of grave injustice, we will be neither silent nor idle, but stand ready to protect our neighbors and communities.”
White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told CBS’s Face the Nation that “this is not a Muslim ban.” He also said people shouldn’t be surprised the president is following through on statements he made on the campaign trail.
“This was a promise that President Trump had made and it’s a promise that he’s going to keep,” Priebus said. “And he’s not willing to be wrong on this subject — we need to do our best to be vigilant and protect Americans.”