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Checks and balances: Sea-Tac protest, courts snarl first hours of Trump immigration order


One week ago, months of shock and anger after Donald Trump’s victory inspired millions to take to the streets across the country including a march in Seattle that stretched from the Central District to the Space Needle. The latest stand against the new administration took only hours — and a few hundred rides out of Capitol Hill Station.

Protesters filled Sea-Tac airport Saturday night to push back against the president’s latest executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days. Travelers across the country and the world were caught in limbo with the sudden executive action including six at Sea-Tac, according to officials — up to 13 according to lawyers and family members.

After five hours or protest, with two detainees reportedly released and four more sent back to “their place of departure,” the Sea-Tac crowd had swelled from a few dozen to more than 1,000 people. “No one leaves until the detainees are released,” the protesters demanded. UPDATE: The protest crowds thinned through the night and around 2 AM, police began forcibly removing remaining protesters using arrests and pepper spray. Early Sunday morning, the Port of Seattle announced it had been contacted by the Department of Homeland Security and that “individuals are no longer being detained at Sea-Tac”:

Trump’s move was temporarily blocked in part by legal actions across the country. In Seattle, a U.S. District Court Judge granted an emergency stay. Governor Jay Inslee thanked the ACLU and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project for their quick work. In federal court in New York, the ACLU won an emergency stay Saturday night for citizens of the seven barred countries who already arrived in the US and those still in transit who hold valid visas.

The federal ruling did not force the release of the people already being held at airports across the country including those detained at Sea-Tac.

Hundreds of protesters stuffed in front of most exits and entrances across the airport called for the immediate release of those being held. Flight delays were stacking up and police were reported blocking of areas of the airport and trying to control access to the Port of Seattle facility. At one point in the night, Sound Transit announced that “police” had ordered the agency’s light rail trains not to stop at the Airport Station. That decision was quickly reversed. “Light rail should run when and where people need it, and request to stop should go up to senior level,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said about the situation via Twitter. “Thank you to everyone who texted and messaged me about the Sound Transit stoppage tonight,” Constantine wrote.

Earlier in the night, officials including Inslee gathered at Sea-Tac to denounce the executive order. Rep. Pramila Jayapal demanded the release of travelers detained at Sea-Tac. “This executive order is absolutely inhumane and barbaric,” she said in a statement. “President Trump has banned men, women, and children seeking better lives from accessing the American dream. His xenophobic policies are not only causing mass chaos and uncertainty at our ports but exacerbating fears in the hearts of Muslims across the country.”

Trump’s “Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States” executive order targeting immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen will now face an ongoing barrage of legal challenges and, undoubtedly, more protests. A “Stand with Immigrants! – Emergency Rally” is planned for Sunday night in Westlake Center.

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11 thoughts on “Checks and balances: Sea-Tac protest, courts snarl first hours of Trump immigration order

  1. In 2013 President Obama suspended refugees from Iraq for six months.
    In 2015 Congress passed, and Obama signed, a law restricting visas from states of concern; and in 2016 Obama’s DHS, Jeh Johnson, expanded those restrictions.

    All President Trump is doing is taking the same action as Obama 2013, and applying Visa restrictions to the nation states Obama selected in 2015 and 2016.

    • For fun, put this post into Google and you can find its exact wording from Infowars, and other right-wing sites, and now it’s being re-posted as a comment all over the place.

      Free thinkers, you are.

  2. Makes no sense to refuse admission to green card holders who have already been extensively vetted. Another example of Trump’s ill-considered impulsiveness which then has to be reversed, increasing the sense that this administration is chaotic.

  3. How gross is it that SPD feel they can just stop the light rail to prevent people from showing up to peacefully protest? Disgusting.

  4. ‘SeaTac Airport having exits and entrances shut down. “No one leaves until the detainees are released.”‘
    I was there at 11 PM picking up some friends. Curiously the protesters totally blocked one set of stairs and the adjacent skybridge to the parking garage, but totally ignored the adjacent stairs and skybridge (which all the passengers went to).
    Protesters were quite hostile to people trying to use the stairs they were occupying. Given that it was only a symbolic blockage (the adjacent stairs being open) I felt that they were only serving to alienate already stressed and tired passengers who were probably sympathetic to their cause.