Honolulu protesters join nationwide movement of outrage over immigrant travel ban

Turmoil continued Sunday over President Trump’s new immigration policy with travelers being detained at airports across the country.

Protests went into their second day at major airports on the mainland and the outrage was expressed Sunday in Honolulu.

Part of the president’s executive order of a travel ban that was signed Friday was halted Saturday night in an order by a federal judge.

Responding in a statement released on Facebook Sunday, Trump said that “this is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe. … My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as president, I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”

President Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway said the federal judge’s decision doesn’t really affect the executive order “because the executive order is meant to be prospective. It’s preventing, not detaining, so you are talking over 325,000 people from overseas came into this country just yesterday through our airports. (Out of that number), you are talking about 300 and some who have been detained or are prevented from gaining access to an aircraft in their home countries and must stay for now, that’s one percent. So I think in terms of the upside being greater protection of our borders of our people, it’s a small price to pay.”

Regardless, there’s outrage nationwide about the order, and protesters here in Hawaii joined the nationwide movement by gathering at the international arrivals area of the Honolulu International Airport Sunday.

There were close to 200 people letting their voices be heard at an event that was just organized overnight through phone calls and social media.

One of them, Robin Kelly, said that “we all are refugees. You cannot stop people with green cards and visas and detain them. … My son is in Afghanistan for his third tour. What is he fighting for?!”

Just one week into Donald Trump’s presidency and these protesters say the new administration should get used to it.

“I think our president has forgotten that, except for Native Hawaiians and Native Americans, we are all immigrants,” said State Sen. Karl Rhoads (D/Downtown, Chinatown). “We are the melting pot the world looks to for opportunity, and we’re closing the door, and it’s just stupid.”

Parents even brought their children, hoping to lead by example. Alexis Shadwick said “just to take this as a lesson of being compassionate and caring about other people. … You ultimately want her to be a good person.”

Protestors tell us they’ll fight these executive orders as long as necessary and executive director Mateo Caballero of ACLU Hawaii says they’re in it for the long haul, too.

“We see this as a victory, however,” he said. “This is a marathon and not a sprint and those victories at this moment are fragile.”

Earlier Sunday, a joint statement condemning the president’s executive order was released by a group of state attorneys general that included the support of Hawaii AG Doug Chin. They are “committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created.”

In response, Gov. David Ige himself issued a statement on immigration to the United States:

I have been in contact with Attorney General Doug Chin regarding several orders issued by the federal courts in the last 24 hours. We believe these orders apply to all U.S. international airports, including those in Honolulu and Kona, and expect legal travelers to this country to be welcomed in Hawaii without being detained unlawfully by the federal government.

Refugees entering the United States are screened by the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI, Defense and State departments, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Refugees fleeing from war and persecution seek, simply, a better life.

Hawaii has a proud history as a place immigrants of diverse backgrounds can achieve their dreams through hard work. Many of our people also know all too well the consequences of giving in to fear of newcomers. The remains of the internment camp at Honouliuli are a sad testament to that fear. We must remain true to our values and be vigilant where we see the worst part of history about to be repeated.

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