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Nearly 200 protested at Eastern Iowa Airport in solidarity with immigrants and refugees

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Protesters at the Eastern Iowa Airport Sunday, Jan. 29. -- photo by Eleanore Taft
Protesters at the Eastern Iowa Airport Sunday, Jan. 29. — photo by Eleanore Taft

Nearly 200 protesters gathered at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids on Sunday in the wake of an executive order issued Friday by President Donald Trump barring citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Sudan from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were denied indefinitely.

Protesters at the Cedar Rapids airport chanted, “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here,” “This is what democracy looks like” and “Hey hey, ho ho, this Muslim ban has got to go.” Silvia Cuevas, of Washington, led some of the chants.

“These things that are going on right now, it’s just not right, and not doing anything about it is like being okay with it. I’m here to speak up for those that can’t be here and to show the world that we are not what Trump says we are,” she said.

Cuevas said she will continue to support this cause until she sees a change, and that she hopes people will try to imagine themselves in others’ shoes before arguing that certain individuals should “go back home,” or saying that they “don’t belong here.”

Courtney Rowe, of Cedar Rapids, who attended the airport protest on Sunday, said that “as a Christian and as an American, I know this is wrong.” Rowe said she plans to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018.

“Our politicians are not representing us and maybe we have not been outraged enough,” she said. “Today it’s refugees and residents from these countries that may be Muslim. Tomorrow, as a lesbian woman, maybe it’s me.”

Janice Binder of Lisbon attended Sunday's protest. -- photo by Eleanore Taft
Janice Binder of Lisbon attended Sunday’s protest. — photo by Eleanore Taft

Janice Binder, of Lisbon, who attended the protest Sunday, said she had also attended the Women’s March and has been writing letters and calling members of Congress to make sure her voice is heard.

“I’m Jewish and I’ve had family who survived the Holocaust and this makes me sick to my stomach,” Binder said. “Hate makes us all more unsafe.”

Richard Gorbell, of Cedar Falls, shook his head as he walked by the protesters to enter the Cedar Rapids airport, saying they had a right to protest, but he disagreed with their stance. He said that he believes the executive order is a step in the right direction to keep the country safe.

“A lot of refugees are coming in, and it’s impossible to backtrack with proper documentation where they came from and whether they were criminals or not and whether they were part of ISIS or not,” Gorbell said.

President Donald Trump tweeted this morning that 109 people were detained and held for questioning as they arrived at airports nationwide. In statements made Saturday, officials from the Department of Homeland Security said 173 individuals were stopped as they boarded U.S.-bound planes.

Although many Cedar Rapids protesters and others on social media often referred to the executive order as a “Muslim ban,” noting that the seven countries impacted are all Muslim-majority nations, the Trump administration over the weekend repeatedly denied any religious basis for the order. In a statement on Facebook, Trump criticized the media for calling the order a “Muslim ban,” and in Sunday’s Face the Nation, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus also stated that, “This is not a Muslim ban.”

The Trump administration announced Sunday that legal permanent residents (“green card” holders) would no longer be included in the group that is denied entrance to the U.S., though they have been cautioned not to leave the country because it may be difficult to receive a waiver to return.

The national Republican leadership has had mixed responses to the executive order. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has expressed support. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has criticized Trump’s actions, and said during Sunday’s Face the Nation, “I think the effect will probably in some areas give ISIS some more propaganda.”


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