300 protesters at Miami’s airport carried a message for President Trump

Protesters march against Trump's immigration order at Miami International Airport

A national wave of protests against President Donald Trump’s immigration order hit Miami on Sunday when about 300 people demonstrated outside the airport. Warning: contains graphic language.
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A national wave of protests against President Donald Trump’s immigration order hit Miami on Sunday when about 300 people demonstrated outside the airport. Warning: contains graphic language.

Standing under the overhang in the drop-off area at Miami International Airport, Tehsin Siddiqui clutched a slightly tattered cardboard square with nine words written in capital letters.

Hoisted up just a few feet away from a cold drizzle that persisted through Sunday afternoon, the sign read: GIVE ME YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, YOUR HUDDLED MASSES.

Siddiqui, a 35-year old Muslim who was born in the United States, said it was a hopeful message after the depression she felt after President Donald Trump’s immigration order Friday. Wearing a hijab and flanked by her husband and three young children, she said she feels the image of America on the world stage is changing.

“I have friends in Dubai who don’t want to come here anymore because of the fear that this order has sent the whole world,” she said.

Siddiqui and her family joined about 300 others in a loud protest outside the center of the airport Sunday, the local splash from a national wave of protests through the weekend in the wake of Trump’s immigration ban.

A national wave of protests against President Donald Trump’s immigration order hit Miami on Sunday when about 300 people demonstrated outside the airport.

Soaked from a constant rain amid temperatures in the 50s, a diverse group of protesters demonstrated for hours near a courtyard lined with flagpoles outside the doors of the departures level. Passing drivers honked their horns, some lowering their windows to offer harsh words for the president. Travelers took pictures and video with their cellphones.

All the while, the crowd swelled with a barrage of chants aimed at Trump. “Not my president.” “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here.” “The people united will never be divided.”

They also decried Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and his decision last week to require local jails to detain illegal immigrants at the urging of the federal government. The demonstrators also briefly blocked the roadway, completely stopping traffic.

“Gimenez, shame on you,” they shouted.

The protest was organized on Facebook by 26-year-old Florida International University graduate student Allison Sardinas. Many families made up the crowd that chanted and waved signs from noon to 4 p.m.

“We’re in Miami,” Sardinas said. “This is an immigrant city.”

A cross section of South Florida’s multicultural population was represented in the crowd.

“As an immigrant, I’m appalled with what Trump did,” said Lulu Chrzaszcz, 62.

Born in the United Kingdom, she has lived in the United States for 40 years and became a naturalized citizen last year to vote in the presidential election. Trump did not win her vote.

“We need to stop from going down the road he’s on,” she said.

Laura Kallus, 44, of Hollywood, knelt down to take a photo of her 4-year-old son Luca, who was holding a small sign that read “Make America kind again.”

“I feel like white women have failed to show up for our non-white brothers and sisters,” she said. “The women’s march inspired me to come out.”

A number of people cited their religious beliefs when asked why they were protesting.

“As a Christian, it’s not optional for us to stand up for people who are being discriminated against,” said Frank Corbishley, an Episcopalian priest. “It’s mandatory.”

Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union were present at the protest, and two Democratic members of the Florida Legislature arrived to support the crowd.

“[The immigration ban] puts us in a position where we’re helping ISIS and others recruit,” said José Javier Rodríguez, a Democratic state senator from Miami. “This is actually more dangerous than continuing the policy that we have of welcoming refugees.”

State Rep. Kionne McGhee, also a Democrat, pointed to the crowd outside the entrance to the airport hotel, speaking over their loud chants.

“Democracy is noisy,” he said.

The protest remained peaceful. Some tension arose when the crowd surged into the street and blocked traffic. Afterward, police formed a human barricade that contained protesters to the sidewalk, where they chanted until 4 p.m.

According to airport authorities, there were no arrests.

After protests on Saturday, a senior White House official seemed to reverse one element of the executive order Sunday. The New York Times reported that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said people with green cards from countries listed in Trump’s immigration order would not be barred from returning to the U.S.

Priebus otherwise defended the ban on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying the order is protecting the country from terrorist threats.

The order still bars all refugees from entering the country for four months, indefinitely bans all Syrian refugees, and prohibits entry of visitors from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — all Muslim-majority countries — for 90 days.

Protests continued at other airports Sunday in Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco. Large crowds protested in Battery Park in New York City and outside the White House in Washington, D.C.

In Miami, it’s unclear if passengers were being detained. U.S. Customs and Border Protections officials declined to answer the Miami Herald’s request for information on travelers being detained at the airport. A spokeswoman deferred questions to the Department of Homeland Security in Washington.

As the crowd dwindled, Siddiqui and her family posed for a few pictures with their signs. Her husband, Azhar Dalal, 37, told a reporter why he thought it was important to be present for the demonstration.

“We are Muslims, and we love everyone and respect everyone,” he said. “That is what our religion teaches us.”

Joey Flechas: 305-376-3602, @joeflech