The Trump administration's executive order barring citizens of seven predominately Muslim nations from entering the United States was met by a stunning wave of anger and mobilization across America.
As stories about green card holders being pulled off planes bound for the U.S., families with children being handcuffed, and an Iraqi translator who had served the U.S. military being detained in New York began to surface across social media, people moved quickly to make their voices heard. The backlash was led by ordinary citizens outraged at the order's apparent targeting of Muslims, lack of compassion for refugees, and impact on families who have lived in the United States for years.
1. A spontaneous protest erupted at JFK airport in New York City.
Thousands of people stood outside JFK Terminal 4 in the bitter cold as travelers and taxi drivers drove by honking their support.
2. The protests quickly spread to airports around the country...
Demonstrations broke out in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta, Washington D.C., Raleigh, Portland, and elsewhere.
3. ...and onto the streets.
4. Lawyers turned out in force, working around the clock on behalf of the stranded travelers.
Immigration attorneys spent the weekend sitting on the floor working to challenge the order and free those who had been detained at customs.
LITERALLY on the ground. Volunteer lawyers are working pro-bono on a Saturday preparing habeus corpus petitions for… https://t.co/X2wc4D3quD— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYC Mayor's Office) 1485644432
Some were organized by immigrant rights groups, but many came on their own, brandishing signs offering "free legal help."
5. New York City cab drivers stopped picking people up from JFK in solidarity.
A defiant taxi workers union announced a last-minute work stoppage from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday night, in protest of the ban.
"Our 19,000-member strong union stands firmly opposed to Donald Trump's Muslim ban," the union's official statement read. "As an organization whose membership is largely Muslim, a workforce that's almost universally immigrant, and a working-class movement that is rooted in the defense of the oppressed, we say no to this inhumane and unconstitutional ban."
6. And after Uber tried to undercut the strike, a movement sprung up to urge people to delete the app.
Whether intentional or not, the ride-sharing company dropped its surge pricing on trips from JFK just as the strike was kicking off.
In response, hundreds took to Twitter to shame the company and announce they'd be dropping the service from their phones.
Lyft donates $1mil to ACLU while Uber doubles down on its support for Trump. #DeleteUber— George Takei (@George Takei) 1485712657
The company's CEO later issued a statement, pledging financial support to its drivers stranded overseas and urging the Trump administration to allow U.S. residents to return home.
7. Veterans raced to the airport rallies to support their Iraqi comrades.
After hearing that an Iraqi interpreter had been stopped at the border, Jeffrey Buchalter, who was injured in Iraq, drove two hours from his home in Maryland to protest for the first time in his life.
"This is not what we fought for, having been in Iraq and working with these interpreters..." Buchalter told the L.A. Times. "Knowing their culture and how they view America, for me, it was a way to send a message to them: What they believe America was, it is. It's the greatest place in the world.”
8. Google co-founder Sergey Brin quietly joined the protests.
Brin, whose family fled the Soviet Union in 1979, explained his presence at the SFO rally to a Forbes reporter saying, "I'm here because I'm a refugee."
Google cofounder Sergey Brin at SFO protest: "I'm here because I'm a refugee." (Photo from Matt Kang/Forbes) https://t.co/GwhsSwDPLT— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@Ryan Mac 🙃) 1485660626
9. The ACLU saw a massive influx of donations — and massive doesn't really even begin to describe it.
The American Civil Liberties Union led the legal charge against the order, declaring the ban unconstitutional and discriminatory. Between Friday and Sunday, the organization took in over $24 million — roughly six times its typical annual haul in donations.
10. And the ACLU's lawyers delivered a temporary victory against the ban late Saturday night.
The ACLU brought their case to a federal judge who issued a partial stay of the executive order, preventing the deportation of visa holders who had already landed in the U.S.
The stay was announced on Twitter by the ACLU's National Voting Rights project director.
And praised by director Anthony Romero as an assembled crowd cheered him on.
11. Crowds cheered as families were released from airport detention centers.
12. Most importantly, ordinary people spent their weekend helping ordinary people.
That's what happened to Rutgers University fellow Mohsen Omrani, who tweeted his story from Newark airport.
Great story. This great lady was infront of me at the security line, and she just apologized for not being fast in… https://t.co/b9DP6yN1vc— Mohsen Omrani (@Mohsen Omrani) 1485704844
Told her it is not her fault and she said it probably is and just broke in tears. It was so sensational to see such an amazing person -3— Mohsen Omrani (@Mohsen Omrani) 1485705023
She said she will wait in Newark to make sure I go through. These amazing people affirm your faith in humanity. 🙏from bottom of my heart -5— Mohsen Omrani (@Mohsen Omrani) 1485705278
When I came out she was standing right outside the door. Have contacted @ACLU already and ruffled some feathers with the officers. -7— Mohsen Omrani (@Mohsen Omrani) 1485714394
She is definitely my hero of the day. Thank you Barbara. You are the reason why this country is so great. Stay amaz… https://t.co/tJA21iFdEK— Mohsen Omrani (@Mohsen Omrani) 1485714562
By the end of the weekend, the protestors and resisters' efforts paid off — proving once again there is power in numbers.
In addition to the rulings in federal court — the New York ruling was soon joined by a similar, more expansive one in Boston in addition to rulings elsewhere, including Virginia and Washington state — the administration appeared to back off the most controversial portion of the order, allowing green card holders to enter.
For now, much of the executive order still stands, as the challenge moves its way through the courts. But with the victories in court and on the streets, thousands of regular Americans sent a clear message to its new president: If you want to close our country's doors, you have to come through us.