The Trump administration’s sudden ban on travel into the U.S. from certain Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East and Africa caused scenes of chaos in airports this last weekend as some travellers were detained or turned back home and protesters, lawyers, and politicians turned up to oppose the ban.
Without prior notice, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 27, 2017 blocking entry into the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The order caught many international travellers in transit, including U.S. legal permanent residents holding green cards, who were detained or turned away at the airport by U.S. Customs officials.
As news of the order spread, thousands of protesters gathered at airports to denounce the travel ban, which critics said unconstitutionally targeted people on the basis of their religion. A U.S. federal judge halted the deportation of travellers detained under the ban, and the Trump administration subsequently directed that green-card holders be allowed to reenter the U.S., and many were permitted to proceed to their destinations on Sunday night, according to published reports.
Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired by President Trump on January 30, 2017 after she instructed the U.S. Justice Department not to support the travel ban in court, saying that it was not legally defensible. Her replacement, Dana Boente, quickly reversed Yates’ order and told Justice Department officials to uphold Trump’s “lawful orders.”
Protests were held at Kennedy International Airport in New York, Logan International Airport in Boston, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, Los Angeles International Airport, Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport, among others. Protests over the travel ban also erupted internationally, and a petition drive was launched in Great Britain to block a state visit by Trump until the order is rescinded.
President Trump claimed in a Twitter post that “only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning” and blamed the protesters and a computer glitch by Delta Air Lines for delays at the airports.