UPDATE - A federal judge granted an emergency stay Saturday night for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries who have already arrived in the US and those who are in transit, and who hold valid visas, ruling they can legally enter the US. The decision halts part of President Donald Trump's executive order, which barred citizens from those countries from entering the US for the next 90 days.
CHICAGO -- (Chicago Tribune) Fourteen people were believed to be in custody Saturday night at O’Hare International Airport as authorities enforced President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration from certain majority-Muslim countries – a crackdown that left relatives frantic and prompted protesters to rush to the airport.
A few others who had been held earlier were released, including Hessan Noorian, a Park Ridge resident returning with his family from Iran. He was freed Friday afternoon after five hours.
Noorian and his wife, Zahra Amirisefat, knew about Trump’s order before boarding their flight home to Chicago. But the couple never imagined it would apply to them.
“The only thing I can say is, it seems something changed,” Noorian said.
Noorian has a green card, as well as British and Iranian citizenship, and Amirisefat is a U.S. citizen. Their son, Ryan, was born six months ago in suburban Chicago. They had been visiting Tehran to introduce their child to their family.
When they landed at O’Hare around noon Saturday, immigration officers told them Noorian could not enter the country without answering some questions, Amirisefat said. They waved her and the baby through but, despite her husband’s urging her to go home, she refused to leave without him.
“I was scared,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going to happen to him, if they would send him back. I wasn’t going to leave him to go through that alone.”
Attorneys assisting family of detainees at O'Hare
Mohammad Amirisefat of Chicago waits for news about relatives at O'Hare International Airport on Jan. 28, 2017. His sister, Zehra Amirisefat, 30, a U.S. citizen, landed at O'Hare with her 6-month-old child after returning from Iran before her husband, a green card holder, was detained.
The couple, who said they work at Oakton Community College, then texted Amirisefat’s brother and then submitted to five hours of on-and-off questioning. The treatment during the five-hour detention was neither abusive nor exemplary, she said. She was allowed to nurse her son in a private room after making several requests, and her husband was given juice when he felt his blood sugar levels drop.
The couple – already jetlagged from their 20-hour trip home from Iran – looked tired and confused as they exited customs around 5:30 p.m. Noorian carried the names of about a dozen people he said were still being held and phone numbers for their relatives.
Noorian’s brother-in-law, Mohammad Amirisefat, said before Noorian’s release: “This is insulting. This is insane, this is truly insane.”
After the release, Noorian’s wife said: “I can’t believe something like this can happen to someone with a green card.”
Trump’s executive order, signed late Friday afternoon, suspends entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks entry for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The order also bars green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States. White House officials said Saturday that green card holders from the seven affected countries would need a case-by-case waiver to return to the United States.
Hundreds of people protested inside and outside O’Hare’s international terminal, chanting “the whole world is watching.”As the crowds swelled, police shut down vehicle access to the terminal.
“It’s horrifying,” Chicago resident Rachel Shinville, 24, said of the ban. “It’s inhumane and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal. It takes a lot of people to allow something like this to happen.”
About 25 lawyers summoned by the International Refugee Assistance Project gathered near McDonald's at O'Hare to represent those being held. The lawyers paced through the arrivals terminal, making their presence known to people who were waiting for travelers.
Members of the lawyers group said 17 people were initially held and 14 remained in custody. Hannah Garst, a Chicago lawyer, said none of those held have refugee status.
Still believed held was Iranian Kasra Noohi, 70 of the South Loop.
His sons, Ayden, 37, and Bardia, 32, waited at O’Hare for their father, had been held for nearly six hours as of Saturday evening. They said he held an American green card and was traveling from the United Arab Emirates. They said he was on the plane when Trump signed the order.
"Part of me is angry, part of me is scared," Bardia Noohi said. "I feel like this is just the beginning."
Ayden Noohi said this incident makes him think of when people of Japanese descent were put into internment camps. "Is history going to repeat itself?" he said. "Are we going to go down this path of racism?"
As protesters marched through the arrivals gate in Terminal 5, the Boohi brothers took video of them.
"Let them in!" the protesters chanted. "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here!"
An Oak Lawn man, Nasser Mused, 36, was also at O’Hare waiting for his father, whom he believed was being held because of Trump’s order. He said he started to think something was wrong when his father didn't contact him two hours after his plane landed.
Abdulsalam Mused, 67, left Chicago in December to attend his son's wedding in Saudi Arabia. He is a Yemen passport holder with an American green card, his son said.
Nearly five hours after his father’s plane landed, Nasser Mused said he had received no texts or calls on what was taking so long.
His father was looking forward to seeking citizenship this May, Nasser Mused said.
"He did everything right," Nasser Mused said. "He feels safe here because you have freedom of speech and freedom to be who you want to be. This is our country. He would do anything to serve this country."
Nasser said he feels concerned that people are being divided into groups and that he has never felt singled out like this before. He didn't expect his father to be held.
"It's indescribable," he said, wiping the side of his face with his hand while closing his eyes. "I've never felt that before. Never in my life."
Nour Ulayyet, 40, of Valparaiso, Ind., told the Associated Press that her sister, a Syrian living in Saudi Arabia, was sent back after arriving at O’Hare from Riyadh and told she couldn't enter the U.S. to help care for their sick mother. Ulayyet said some officials at the airport were apologizing to her sister, who had a valid visa.
"My mom was already having pain enough to go through this on top of the pain that she's having," Ulayyet said.
-Chicago Tribune report
Chicago officials speak out against ban
Local officials including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Luis Gutierrez also spoke out against the travel ban during a roundtable discussion on Saturday.