DENVER – Protesters at Denver International Airport continued the momentum created Saturday across airports nationwide, following President Donald Trump’s executive orders temporarily banning more than 130 million people from entering the United Sates.
The protest at the main terminal began at noon and lasted until about 5 p.m., according to organizers on Facebook.
“A stay has been granted, but that’s only a temporary fix,” the event organizer said, adding that not many people knew about Saturday’s protest in time to participate. “This is your chance.”
Organizers added that Sunday’s protest at DIA will focus on peace and prayer.
“Come in peaceful protest, or come to pray for our Muslim friends. If you are willing to pray for Muslims or refugees individually and fight the religious divisiveness in our country, bring a sign letting people know they can ask you to pray for them.”
Sunday morning, the Denver Police Department sent out a tweet explaining their stance on the protests.
OUR ROLE IN PROTESTS - is to protect people, property,& protect Constitutional rights. We don't take a position - but keep RESPECT paramount
During Saturday's demonstration at DIA, hundreds brought signs with the words “I am _____, and I come in peace.” They also handed out signs spelling out the First Amendment word for word and chanted "Bridges, not walls," and "Let them in."
At one point, protesters sang Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land."
Hundreds at Denver airport singing "This land is my land, this land is your land," led by Syrian American poet. pic.twitter.com/6RuPP4Ltv6
State Representative Leslie Herod, D-Denver, told Denver7 that it was important for her to stand with her neighbors, brothers and sisters "who are immigrants and refugees."
"I think it was important for me to be here to send a message to the White House that we will not allow bans or walls and that Colorado citizens are out here watching. We are paying attention and we will use our voice to make sure that we are heard."
Which groups do these temporary bans affect?
Trump's executive order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for the next 90 days and suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days.
The seven countries affected by this temporary ban are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The executive order, however, also makes clear those seven countries are just a starting point for a possibly broader ban.
The order exempts diplomats and members of international organizations from the ban.
While he has received backlash from Democrats, Trump insisted Saturday that the new policy did not amount to "a Muslim ban," like the one he called for in December 2015 in the heat of the Republican primary campaign.
Response from rights groups, U.S. and foreign officials
Trump's directive has angered rights groups as well as lawmakers at home and around the world.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would challenge the constitutionality of Trump's order.
"There is no evidence that refugees - the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation - are a threat to national security," Lena F. Masri, the group's national litigation director, told the AP. "This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality."
Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Nebraska, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a statement saying that while the president is right to focus on border security, the order is "too broad."
"If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion," Sasse said. "Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom."
"The US decision to restrict travel for Muslims to the US, even if for a temporary period of three months, is an obvious insult to the Islamic world and in particular to the great nation of Iran," the statement said.
In Canada, the tone was much different.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted Saturday afternoon to say that refugees were welcome in Canada, "regardless of your faith."
As protests across the country erupted following news that up to 27 people were detained at several airports due to the executive orders, organizers as civil and refugee rights groups claimed a small victory Saturday night.
A federal judge granted an emergency stay for people who had already arrived in the United States as well as those who were in transit and who hold valid visas, ruling they could legally enter the country.
Judge Ann Donnelly, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, wrote in her decision that government could not remove "individuals with refugee applications approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the US Refugee Admissions Program, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen legally authorized to enter the United States," CNN reported.
Anthony D. Romero, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the judge recognized the potential of harm to immigrants and visitors.
"Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders," he said.
But jubilation quickly turned into confusion once again, as the Department of Homeland Security said in a press release it "will continue to enforce all of the president’s Executive Orders in a manner that ensures the safety and security of the American people."
The statement also noted that Trump's executive orders remain "in place," despite the emergency stay.
"The president's Executive Orders remain in place -- prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety," the release stated.
Protests continue Sunday and into next week
Despite the DHS announcement, thousands were expected to protest across the nation Sunday and into next week.