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Detroit Metro swamped with protests against Trump immigration order

Chanting slogans like “No ban, no wall!” and “Refugees are welcome here,” thousands of protesters jammed parts of Detroit Metro Airport Sunday evening.

It was yet another demonstration against President Trump’s executive orderthat bars arrivals of immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries.

The order also puts a temporary halt to the country’s refugee program, and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

It was a diverse crowd of many ages and backgrounds at the protest. But the group was united in denouncing the so-called “Muslim ban,” and Trump’s immigration policies more broadly.

U.S. Navy veteran Teresa Viola was at the protest.

“This is not what I fought for,” Viola said. “I was proud to serve my country, but I don’t think this is what my country represents. My country is a country of freedom, it’s a country of liberty, and it’s a country where everyone regardless of religion, background, anything, is welcome and free.”

Protester Caryn Noveck held a sign that read: “Ask me why my mother never met her Hungarian Jewish grandparents.”

“This isn’t just about being a good citizen and having empathy for immigrants,” Noveck said. “It’s extremely personal. And I take it as if Donald Trump and [Trump advisor] Steve Bannon were coming after me personally.”

Nadeem Chauhdry, who came to the U.S. as an immigrant 25 years ago, said “it really saddens me to see that this guy Donald Trump is behaving exactly in the manner of many countries I’ve lived in, including Libya."

“This is not the America all of us know. Something has got to be done to reverse this.”

This was the largest of several anti-Trump protests staged across Metro Detroit on Sunday.

Unlike spontaneous protests at other airports nationwide, organizers coordinated with security at Detroit Metro. There were no reported incidents or arrests.

Still unclear is how many people have been detained or turned away at Metro, or other Michigan points of entry, since Trump signed the executive order Friday.

The Department of Homeland Security has not released that information, even to members of Congress or immigration attorneys. That has added to ongoing confusion about who is covered under the order, and how their cases are being handled in the face of numerous court challenges.

Michael Steinberg, an attorney with the Michigan ACLU, says the organization knows that some U.S. green card holders “were detained briefly” this weekend after landing at Metro.

“They were detained, they were being asked questions about their political views, and their cell phones were searched,” Steinberg said. “They were coerced into signing consent agreements to allow the government to track and monitor their phones.”

So far, no information has been released about green card or visa-holding U.S. residents detained at other Michigan points of entry, such as the Detroit-Windsor international border crossing.

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Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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