Protesting an immigration ban ordered by President Donald Trump, signs at SFO announce "We Want You Here" and "Give Us Your Huddled Masses."
American protesters were responding to an executive order imposing a federal ban on US entry from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days. Trump's order also bars refugees from US entry for 120 days and bans Syrian refugees indefinitely.
Trump's orders quickly resulted in the detention of immigrants at US international airports. At JFK, two refugees from Iraq were being held, and according to the Chronicle, reports of travelers being detained at SFO helped spur local demonstrations.
There was at least initial confusion over the number of detainees. "We have lawyers currently at SFO" Lara Kiswani of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center told KRON4. “What we’re not clear about is who or what type of families are being held... whether they’re from Syria or Iran or other countries, we don’t know for certain,”
Palo Alto-based attorney Susie Hwang told the news station "several families" were waiting at the airpot to hear whether family members and loved ones would be forced to return to their countries of origin. One woman from Iran who received asylum in the US six years ago waits on news of her 30-year-old son, who arrived at SFO this morning.
Hwang clarified to the San Jose Mercury News that there were three Iranian immigrants in total, the 30-year-old man and an elderly couple, who were detained after their flights.
California Lieutenant Governor and former SF Mayor Gavin Newsom attended the protest, as did State Senator and former SF Supervisor Scott Wiener, and Bay Area writers Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman.
As some technology CEOs have responded to Trump's executive order with outrage and others with degrees of passivity, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, a Russian immigrant, was at the SFO protest in a "personal capacity."
Sergey Brin at SFO, told me he's here with protestors in a personal capacity, wouldn't give a comment.— Selena Larson (@selenalarson) January 29, 2017
Google cofounder Sergey Brin at SFO protest: "I'm here because I'm a refugee." (Photo from Matt Kang/Forbes) pic.twitter.com/GwhsSwDPLT— Ryan Mac (@RMac18) January 29, 2017
Later in the evening, SFO protesters cheered news that Federal Judge Ann M.Donnelly had ordered an emergency stay against the implementation of Trump's executive order following lawsuits filed by the ACLU and other legal organizations.
After learning about the stay, protest at SFO chants, "No lawyers/ No nation / Fuck deportation"— Michael de la Merced (@m_delamerced) January 29, 2017
As protesters held tight and hunkered down, staging a sit-in, ACLU officials told Chronicle reporter Vivian Ho that two detainees were released to their families.
ACLU lawyers were applauded as they were permitted to speak with SFO detainees and their families.
The family of one detainee announced he had been jailed according to several sources on Twitter.
lawyer working with an individual detained at SFO, received news 30 year old Iranian man put in jail— Pamela Larson (@PamReporting) January 29, 2017
Protesters, vowing not to leave until all detainees are released, recharged with pizza and water, some joining with signs written on pizza boxes in sharpie
The airport staff at SFO are providing water to protesters. pic.twitter.com/fBfCr3ZIrR— Patrick O'Neill (@HowellONeill) January 29, 2017
"Let them go right now." Protesters have made it to the security checkpoint at SFO. pic.twitter.com/Rhz6R4AhKP— Bianca Graulau (@bgraulau) January 29, 2017
You can take BART to all kinds of weekend events - also, direct service to SFO is running great right now.— SFBART (@SFBART) January 28, 2017
About to leave the US. Managed to organize w/friends and bring pizza, coffee and water to SFO. You should if you can too. pic.twitter.com/OlFk7dS2RL— David Padilla (@dabit) January 29, 2017
Barely made it, by the way. Security checkpoint A at SFO now totally closed. pic.twitter.com/qVR0mmTr63— David Padilla (@dabit) January 29, 2017
Omfg this is the 7th hour of the protest at SFO and people are getting more energized by the minute. Release the detainees! pic.twitter.com/qnfs38VpL6— Meagan Day (@meaganmday) January 29, 2017