Travelers walking out of the double doors appeared confused to find the large crowd standing in the international arrival area of the BWI Airport. Signs waved in the air with statements such as, “I Love My Muslim Neighbor” or “Immigrants Make America Great,” while people attended the rally.
A crowd of roughly 2,000 protesters chanted against the recent executive order by President Trump that suspends refugees from entering the country for 120 days. The order also bans citizens from seven nations — Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq — from entering the country.
“I’m just appalled at the idea of this xenophobia,” Jennean Everett from Catonsville, Maryland said.
She decided to attend the protest, along with her husband, as a way to show support for those detained in airports across the nation.
“At the root of our souls, as Americans, our country is built on immigrants,” Everett said. “This can’t stand, and I love to be part of saying no to this because even though he is the president, he does not have the mandate to do things like this.”
The protest not only focused on rejecting Trump’s ban, but also on creating a welcoming atmosphere.
One protester, Andre Young from Glen Burnie, Maryland, wanted to protest the Muslim ban and support international refugee rights, but also saw the acceptance.
“People were very accepting of anyone who walked out the door. Everybody down there was nice to each other and it was just a good environment,” Young said.
This environment meant a lot to one couple from Pakistan. In order to remain anonymous, they asked to keep their names out but discussed what the ban means for their family.
“My son is a kindergartener. They just learned about Martin Luther King,” the mother said. “We were talking about what a strike is and what a protest is, so this is a great thing for us to experience as a family.”
Despite their initial decision to remain out of the public eye, they changed their minds once they saw the support.
“We don’t ever want to be in front of a camera,” the husband said. “But then it just kept getting worse and now the rest of the country is out to support us. We are immigrants and we are green card holders.”
“The next day, our country can be on the list.”
For the families with members detained, lawyers gathered around a table to offer their help during the rally.
Jessica Bancroft, an attorney for the Office of the Public Defender, attended the protest on her own as a volunteer because she wanted to help whoever she could, she said.
“I feel like just as a citizen it is upsetting and terrifying. I am very lucky to be a lawyer because I can be here and help anybody,” Bancroft said.
“I do not do immigration law, but it is something I feel that I need to do in order to help.”
Though there were no detainees at the airport, she hopes to answer questions for those who might need assistance, she said.
The actions of the executive order are now called into question as officials consider if the ban will weaken counterterrorism defenses made by the U.S., according to the Washington Post .
During the protest, numerous officials stood in support.
“Sadly we have a president who has come to a point where there seems to be almost a hijacking of our democracy,” Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said to the protesters, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The Sun also reported that Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley attended the protest. Amongst the large crowd of friends and families, the sense of solidarity became clear for the mother from Pakistan.
“I was actually tearing up, I have never participated in something like this,” she said.
Featured Photo Credit: Protestors at Baltimore’s BWI airport hold up signs protesting President Trump’s travel ban. (Naomi Harris/Bloc Reporter)
Naomi Harris is a senior multi-platform journalism and sociocultural anthropology double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.