Protesters at U.S. airports: 'Refugees welcome here!'

WASHINGTON DC, USA – "No hate, no fear! Refugees are welcome here!"  

Instead of merrymaking, this chant greeted passengers exiting the Washington Dulles International Airport on Saturday, January 28, as hundreds of protesters to denounce a new policy enacted by US President Donald Trump.

Protesters trooped to different American airports to slam Trump's decision to suspend the arrival of refugees and impose new restrictions on travelers from 7 Muslim-majority countries.

"Jesus was a refugee, and Jesus will welcome refugees from anywhere," said Sarah Crisman, who belongs to the group Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Virginia, as well as Hope United Church of Christ.

"So we're here to stand up to the ban on refugees and we're here to welcome our neighbors," Crisman added in their protest at Dulles Airport, which serves the capital, Washington DC.

OPPOSING REFUGEE BAN. 'Jesus was a refugee,' protester Sarah Crisman says at the Washington Dulles International Airport on January 28, 2017. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler

OPPOSING REFUGEE BAN. 'Jesus was a refugee,' protester Sarah Crisman says at the Washington Dulles International Airport on January 28, 2017.

Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler

Another female protester, who declined to be named, said to explain why she was there: "Because this is the land of the free, and the land of welcoming and opportunity for everyone."

In other US airports, too

Thousands of protesters also gathered at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport and Boston's Logan International Airport to voice their anger against the refugee ban.

Trump's decree – which he says aims to make America safe from "radical Islamic terrorists" – specifically says no visas will be issued for 90 days to migrants or visitors from the 7 Muslim-majority states: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, and Libya.

It also bars Syrian refugees indefinitely, or until Trump himself decides that they no longer pose a threat.

Trump's move sparked widespread criticism and concern across the world. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani did not comment directly on the visa ban Saturday, but did criticize Trump, saying that now was "not the time to build walls between nations."

Reacting to Trump's decision, the United Nations urged him to continue his country's "long tradition" of welcoming refugees and to ensure their equal treatment, regardless of race, nationality or religion. 

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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