On Jan. 27, the United States’ President of 20 days issued another controversial executive order. The order temporarily banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, and Libya. This travel ban initially included those with Visas and, until recently, those holding Green Cards.
According to the online release of the executive order by the White House Press Office, the order states that in order to protect American citizens, “the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. […] In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred […] or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
Trump’s latest action has raised serious legal questions and has sparked a series of protests in airports across the country.
At the Los Angeles International Airport, masses of citizens flooded the gates of the Tom Bradley International Terminal to peacefully protest.
According to Rob Pedregon, a public informations officer for the LAPD Airport police, “this particular protest started about 10 a.m. this morning [Jan. 30]. [The same group of people] have been here throughout the day. It’s SEIU [Service Employees International Union] which is a labor union here that a lot of [airport] employees […] belong to,”
Pedregon worked alongside his colleagues to supervise the protesters and ensure the safety of the citizens.
“Our mission here at the airport is to keep the peace and to keep the free flow of commerce. We basically stand by and make sure that peace is followed […] and also to protect their rights to protest. So we actually represent both sides,” said Pedregon.
These protests were not unknown to the students at MC, as members of the student body were present at the airport exercising their first amendment rights.
Senior Rihanna Boulanouar was a member of the 1,000-1,500 protesters that took the San Diego Airport by storm.
“I was there on the 29th of January. It [the protests] started at 5 o’clock [p.m.], and I left there around 9 p.m. We were basically just protesting about how there’s a Muslim ban and how Donald Trump set this ban where people aren’t allowed in [from the seven countries], [regardless of whether or not they hold a] green card or visa or anything,” Boulanouar said, “So we’re basically just protesting like how we all have equal rights like: freedom of speech, freedom of religion.”
The reasons Boulanouar was present extended beyond the humanity of the issue.
“Coming from a Muslim family, it’s personal. I’m not […] very religious or anything but it still kind of hit home,” Boulanour said.
Boulanour verbalized her understanding for the emotions and struggles of those being detained.
“I’m not from any of those places [the seven countries] but seeing how much it affected other people as well as people that I personally know, it definitely struck something in me,” Boulanour said, “So it’s our future, y’know? It’s something I wanted to protest and […] I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Boulanour went on to describe the government’s actions as “something that is inhumane.”
UC Irvine student Christine Bayon, present at the LAX protests, echoed this sentiment.
“We’re here again today to make sure people hear our message that we’re against the ban and we want the detainees to be released and that people shouldn’t be discriminated for their religion,” Bayon said.
The LAX protests were a weekend-long event that attracted the attention of many media platforms.
“There was a lot of [news] coverage yesterday when we were blocking both the entrance and the exit here at LAX we got a lot of news coverage because we completely blocked the road so no one could get in or out of LAX,” Bayon said.
In totality, President Trump’s executive orders have garnered much of the public’s attention and galvanized American citizens into action. Boulanour’s empathy for the detainees and their families echoes that of the thousands of protesters, both nationally and internationally.
“I just want people to […] realize that this is America, and that no matter what happens we’re all human,” Boulanour said, “[…] and in a way it’s just heartbreaking just to see that this [sentiment and hatred] is coming back”.