No Ban Protest at Syracuse Hancock International Airport

“Let them in”: Syracuse residents gather at airport to protest Trump’s immigration executive order

SU students, activists and families with young children protested President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration Sunday night at the local airport.

At least 1,000 protesters gathered at Terminal A in the Syracuse Hancock International Airport Sunday night to protest the latest executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

They carried signs of all shapes, sizes and colors, presenting the same underlying message: #NoMuslimBan.

Trump’s executive order called for a temporary ban on immigrants and refugees entering the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. The order also affected immigrants holding green cards, blocking them from coming back to the country after traveling abroad.

"I want them to know that what they hear and see on TV isn’t actually what most people think." - Peter Couvares

Sunday’s protest, which was inspired by the many other demonstrations held in airport terminals over the weekend, was organized by Katko Watch, a branch of the Central New York Solidarity Coalition that aims to hold local representatives accountable for challenging President Trump’s orders. Thomas M. Keck, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, is one of the main organizers of the group.

“We’ve helped organize many public demonstrations since the election,” Keck said. “They’ve been growing in size over time, particularly since Trump took office.”

Keck also says he wasn’t surprised by the huge turnout at the airport, but that he’s “never seen a political moment like this one.” 

“In cities and towns of all sizes, in every region of the country, people are standing up to say that Trump does not speak for us,” he added.

College students, elderly residents and families with young children chanted and carried signs for almost two hours. Mayor Stephanie Miner joined the protest later on and gave a speech expressing her and the city’s support for refugees. “We are here with our feet, but we will be at the ballot boxes too,” Miner said, drawing wild cheers from the crowd. 

Earlier this week, Miner released a statement in response to Trump’s executive action on sanctuary cities, saying that the city and the police department’s resources would not be used to enforce federal anti-immigration policies.

Peter Couvares, an SU researcher, said that he brought his daughters with him to teach them how much support there is for people from other countries in the United States.

“I want them to know that what they hear and see on TV isn’t actually what most people think,” Couvares said.

Other children attending the protest already had first-hand experience with refugees. Karly Desmond and her children have volunteered and donated to the Mosque of Jesus, Son of Mary in the past. Desmond’s six-year-old son, Simon, has met some of the Syrian refugee children that have come to Syracuse. This exposure has made Simon very empathetic, and he was excited to be carrying his sign around the protest.

“They can come,” he said, talking about the immigrants and refugees being denied access to the United States. “They can come.”

Although there is anxiety over the future, protesters said they remain committed to fighting Trump's executive order. Yusuf Soule, a local activist and president of the board of the Northside Learning Center, held up a cardboard sign with only one word on it, contrasting most of the signs around him.

“My sign says ‘Together,’” Soule says. “We’re one people, we’re one world. There’s more people who want to work together for the betterment of the world than want to be divisive. That’s why I’m here today.”

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