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Thousands of demonstrators gathered Sunday near the White House in Washington, launching a second day of protests in cities across the United States against President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven Muslim countries.
Chanting "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here," protesters took aim at Trump's executive order, which blocks the arrival of all refugees to the United States for at least 120 days. It also bars visa holders from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Iraq, Sudan and Yemen for 90 days and bans Syrian nationals indefinitely.
Protests also were under way in New York's Battery Park, which overlooks the Statue of Liberty -- America's iconic beacon that has inspired and welcomed immigrants from across the globe for more than 140 years. Protests also were held in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, Atlanta, Louisville and Detroit.
At the Battery Park protest, U.S. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he urged new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to take action in the dispute.
"I have told him in no uncertain terms that he has a moral, a moral obligation to go to the president and tell him to rescind these orders," Schumer told the crowd. Trump's order "makes us less humanitarian, less safe and less American."
A 25-year-old Iraqi medical student studying in the United States told VOA she was joining protests in Los Angeles to "support her brothers and sisters... stuck at the gate at the airport." She also said plans to visit her family in Iraq were on hold, and that family members will not be allowed to visit her in the United States.
Separately, a Somali-American father who has lived in the United States for 10 years told VOA his wife was blocked at Dulles International Airport outside Washington Saturday. Farhan Sulub said immigration authorities told him she was not allowed U.S. entry because of her nationality, but that his children traveling with her could stay.
Trump on Sunday appeared unfazed by the rising opposition to his refugee order. "Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, now. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world -- a horrible mess," he tweeted to his nearly 23 million followers.
The order spread confusion across major U.S. and foreign airports on Saturday, prompting lawyers for two Iraqi nationals detained in New York to seek and win a court order temporarily barring the deportation of foreign nationals with legal standing in U.S. territories.
Elsewhere, security officials in Cairo said an Iraqi family of five was barred from boarding a flight to New York. Qatar Airways warned U.S.-bound travelers they would need diplomatic visas or other official documentation before boarding U.S. flights.
The first large protest against the ban erupted Saturday at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. By nightfall, more than 2,000 people, many of them carrying signs and chanting anti-Trump slogans, were joined by celebrities who called for the immediate release of 12 international travelers detained by airport authorities.
Three thousand more chanting demonstrators later jammed the international airport serving Seattle, Washington. The Port of Seattle Commissioners, which oversees airport operations, issued a statement decrying the ban, saying it "runs counter to our values. America is great because we are a land of immigrants, and that is what made us great to begin with."
Source: Voice of America