Protests erupt at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport after travel ban

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Hundreds of people packed into one of the world's busiest airports Sunday to sound off in opposition to President Donald Trump's travel ban.

The demonstrators chanted and held signs at the domestic and international terminals at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for hours. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and U.S. Congressman John Lewis (D-Georgia) were among leaders that came out during the event.

The group made its way inside the airport in the baggage claim section of domestic flights. But there were no incidents. The Atlanta Police Department reports no arrests during the course of the event.

The protest came after dozens of Muslims were detained at airports across the country Saturday, including a Georgia family and several other travelers in Atlanta, as a result of Trump's executive order that temporarily blocks immigrants and refugees from seven majority-Muslim nations.

An Iranian family involved was held at the airport after arriving on a flight from Amsterdam, according to immigration attorneys. The family of three was described as lawful permanent residents of the United States with green cards. A relative, Mansour Kenareh of Suwanee, Georgia, spoke with FOX 5's Marissa Mitchell as he waited for his sister, brother-in-law and 10-year-old niece.

"They are not refugees or anything. They have permanent residence of the United States, and apparently, this ruling has confused organizations such as the immigration office," Kenareh said.

After being detained for about five, the entire family was cleared and allowed to leave the airport.

Sarah Owings, an attorney with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, stayed at the airport to assist families. She said there was a 76-year-old woman, also from Iran, who had to wait several hours in order to be processed.

"U.S. citizen relatives of people detained are deeply concerned that their rights are not being respected. It makes you feel like a second-class citizen," Owings stressed.


Democratic Georgia Congressmen John Lewis and Hank Johnson went to the airport Saturday after learning about the situation. Rep. Johnson said late Saturday that an airport official told him 11 people were detained in all. By Saturday night, all 11 had been cleared to enter the U.S., Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said.



Rep. John Lewis described the situation as "unfair". In a written statement, Rep. Lewis said, "People immigrate to America because they are inspired by our commitment to justice and democracy. To treat as strangers these law-abiding immigrants, to whom we as a nation have seen fit to grant permanent status, is a stain on the integrity of our country and threatens the democratic principles this nation stands for. This is a dark hour for America.”

Late Saturday, a U.S. District Judge in New York issued an emergency order barring the U.S. from deporting people arriving from the nations subject to the travel ban with a valid visa or an approved refugee application.
President Trump issued the executive order Friday, describing it as a necessary step to fight Islamic terrorism. The President said Saturday about the order, "It's working out very nicely. We're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years."

In the wake of the order, protestors gathered at a number of major airports around the country Saturday. The largest protest happened at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, where 12 refugees were detained Saturday.

READ MORE: Travel ban explained; protests begin at U.S. airports