Hundreds of People Converge On Cleveland Hopkins Airport to Protest Immigration Order

Jan 30, 2017

About 1,000 protestors converged on Cleveland Hopkins Airport yesterday to demonstrate against President Donald Trump's executive order banning citizens of some Muslim countries from entering the U.S.

The protesters marched peacefully for about two hours, starting in the ticketing area, going to departures outside, then down to baggage claim and even out toward the street entrance near I-480. They were  chanting phrases such as, “Here in CLE we welcome all: no ban, no wall!”

Joan Dowling from Cleveland Heights was there and says the immigrant ban is surreal to her. She hopes protesters now take steps to voice their opinions to their elected officials.

“It’s really incumbent upon everybody at this point – whether they’ve ever been active or not – to gather the courage to speak up and protest in whatever way they can and to the extent that they can.” 

A different view
Nancy Smith from Westlake wasn’t participating. She’s a Trump supporter who came to observe. She says the 90-day ban for visitors and U.S. green-card residents from the seven Muslim-majority countries as well as the 120-day ban for most refugees -- and indefinite ban for Syrian refugees -- is not unreasonable.

“And I think people should abide by it and just give him a chance. He’s trying to protect all of us; he’s not doing this to be mean to people. But everybody’s up in arms and I wonder how many in this group voted? How many are here illegally?”

Most of the protesters were not Middle Eastern, something noticed by Sabrine Najjar, a Palestinian who came to Northeast Ohio 27 years ago.

“That’s actually the most touching part: the fact that there are non-Muslims here and they’re just as passionate as we are.”

Many of the protesters were mobilized by the news that a Sudanese physician from the Cleveland Clinic had been denied entry back into the U.S. on Saturday.

Jyostna Mishra is an immigration lawyer who came here 13 years ago. She says that even though the ban is on some Muslim countries right now, that could always expand, including, she fears, to her native India.

“We don’t know because we cannot predict what Trump can do. Because it has a substantial Muslim population and we have had so many terrorist attacks in India, so it can be a terrorist country, according to Trump. So, we don’t know.”

The protest was without incident except for a brief moment at the end, when about 100 remaining protestors tried to return to baggage claim but were blocked by police. A half-dozen protestors shouted insults at Chief Calvin Williams and other officers before leading the group outside.

Hopkins airport officials said the protests did not cause any delays or other issues for passengers.

The view from Washington
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman says President Trump's order should have been more thoroughly vetted.

Appearing on CNN's "State of the Union," Portman said there is a need to tighten up screenings for immigrants and refugees, but Trump's order has been problematic.

"We have to do it in a way that’s consistent with our values and consistent with our national security. We are this beacon of hope and opportunity for the rest of the world. That’s our self-image and it’s also an important part of our foreign policy. So we have to do it in a way that makes sense."

Portman added that the stays against the executive order issued by federal judges are “appropriate,” and that Congress needs to come up with improved screening procedures going forward.

One Sunday, the Cleveland Clinic issued a statement saying it is "fully committed and actively working toward the safe return of any of our employees who have been affected by this action." 

Dr. Suha Abushamma also issued a statement after being denied re-entry to the U.S.: "I want to personally thank everyone for their support and well wishes. Although this has been a difficult experience, I am grateful to be safe with my family in Saudi Arabia. Please know that I am deeply committed to my medical career and to helping patients at Cleveland Clinic." Abushamma is a first year resident at Cleveland Clinic.