Northwestern students join O’Hare protests against travel ban

Matthew Choi, Campus Editor

Hundreds of demonstrators, including Northwestern students, gathered at Chicago O’Hare International Airport Saturday and Sunday to protest President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Trump signed an executive order Friday prohibiting citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the United States for 90 days. It also prohibited refugees from entering for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Authorities detained 18 people at O’Hare, and did not release them until a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union stayed the executive order. The Arab American Action Network organized the demonstration shortly after the executive order went into effect Saturday.

After finding out about the protests through social media, Weinberg junior Yusuf Kudaimi went to O’Hare to join the protests Saturday and Sunday. Though other demonstrations such as the Women’s March have spoken against the Trump administration, Kudaimi said he felt this protest was the first to directly address a specific action taken by the president.

Kudaimi, who is Arab American and said he knows several green card and student visa-holders, emphasized the need to speak out against the executive order but also added that the United States had also done little to help refugees from the region before the immigration restriction.

“In general, the U.S. has done nothing in comparison to our European counterparts,” Kudaimi said. “We’re barely accepting any refugees from these regions in the first place, and I feel like that’s something that’s kind of flying under the radar.”

SESP senior Jacob Rosenblum coordinated with several of his friends to travel to O’Hare and join the protest. Rosenblum — who also serves as advocacy co-chair of ZOOZ, a Jewish social action group on campus — said he contacted other members of the ZOOZ board and gathered a group at the last minute to go to the airport.

Rosenblum added that protesting the executive order was personal because his family had come to the United States in the late 1800s as refugees from the pogroms in Eastern Europe. He also noted parallels with Jewish refugees who were denied entry into the United States in the early stages of the Holocaust because they were suspected of being Nazi spies.

“If we hadn’t been accepted as refugees, I would not be alive,” Rosenblum said. “This stuff has happened before, and there’s just no way we’re going to let it happen again.”

Claire Fahey said she had been studying in Unicorn Cafe, 1723 Sherman Ave., when she saw a Facebook event post for the protest. The Medill sophomore joined a group of students including Rosenblum and went to the airport, where they joined a crowd chanting and marching around Terminal 5, she said. They attempted to block escalators and were occasionally confronted by police.

Protesters also marched inside the terminal toward Customs and Border Protection offices, Fahey said. Several protesters spoke about their experiences living in countries named in the executive order. The demonstrators eventually marched toward a highway entrance, where Fahey said she, Meyer and Rosenblum heard of the federal court decision to stay the executive order.

Fahey had attended the Women’s March on Chicago, which protested Trump’s inauguration the day after the ceremony. She said she felt that protest was only the beginning of a resistance to Trump’s actions.

“If I was inspired in that moment to go, I should be inspired in any moment to go,” Fahey said. “I am extremely privileged as a white woman to be able to not be super fearful to put my body into those situations … and this is a way I see as making my voice heard and fighting against this administration.”

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