SALT LAKE CITY -- Around 200 or more people gathered in Terminal 2 of the Salt Lake City International Airport Saturday night to protest an executive order signed by President Donald Trump that limits immigration and bans admission of refugees.
Though a judge intervened and issued a stay Saturday night, the group sent their message loud and clear: They oppose the executive order and want to show support for immigrants and refugees.
“There’s so many people in this city that love you and that want you to be here, and there’s so many people in this city that are willing to stand with you and to fight back,” said Ella Mendoza, who organizes nationally with Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. “We need to resist together.”
Kim Gabbitas, who helped organize the sit-in, said many people are feeling discouraged and afraid about what the future holds for immigrants and refugees in the United States.
She said the judge’s stay is an exciting temporary victory.
“It’s really exciting to me to have some hope at least, to be able to come together and say, ‘Look, we’re going to provide a safe haven for you. If other people don’t want you here, we do,’” She said, continuing, “We recognize your value and we recognize your worth, and we’re here to accept you.”
The ACLU was quick to jump in with a lawsuit after the detainment of two Iraqis at JFK International Airport in New York.
“This executive order is outrageous and shameful,” John Mejia, legal director of ACLU Utah said. “The United States stands for better than this. We should be welcoming to refugees and immigrants from all over the world.”
The Utah Democratic Party said the executive order is discriminatory and downright unconstitutional.
“We have in our Constitution that we do not discriminate against people based on their religious beliefs,” Utah Democratic Party Chair Peter Corroon said. “The first thing Donald Trump does in his first week of office is tear apart the Constitution, tear apart everything this country stands for.”
On Friday, when asked about tighter immigration restrictions, Governor Gary Herbert weighed in, saying he understands the intent.
“What they're trying to say, I believe as I understand it, is, ‘We want to keep terrorists out of our country.’ Don’t we all agree to that?” he asked, during the press conference.
He said that Utah has always been a welcoming state for refugees and immigrants, and said they are a part of the fabric of the state.
Gov. Herbert said the country needs to screen terrorists, but didn’t quite agree with a complete ban.
“I`m less inclined to say, ‘Let’s keep people out from wherever their origin is,’” he said. “We have a lot of people in Syria that are probably running from terror, that aren't terrorists. More important to me is who they are [and] what they are, as opposed to where they come from.”