Protests erupt in Boston as migrant families are thrown into chaos by immigration ban

BOSTON — A protest erupted outside Boston Logan airport Saturday after an executive order by the president took effect with drastic consequences for many traveling or migrant families.

The Executive Director of the Massachusetts ACLU says the organization has lawyers ready to represent anyone wrongly being denied entry to the country after an executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump reportedly blocked a number of citizens from re-entering the country.

The ACLU’s Carol Rose says the attorneys will represent those kept form the country illegally free of charge.

Meanwhile protestors are taking up signs and heading out to the airport to terminals after two people were denied re-entry at New York’s JFK Airport and then were allegedly denied access to an attorney when they were detained.

According to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU in New York Saturday morning, the customs and border patrol agents told the men to contact President Trump himself, when they asked to whom they could speak.

Rose says what's happening is illegal.

"Detaining people and taking away their freedom based on who they are, their religion, and preventing their entry into the US is wrongheaded, it's illegal and it's unconstitutional and the ACLU is here to represent those people" Rose said.

"We now have the same feelings as we had when we lived in Syria, of instability and insecurity. And the hardest part is when the kids see it and ask what does this mean, and you don't know how to answer," Syrian refugee Amira Elarmri told FOX25.

A woman named Bahar Bahmani arrived at Logan to pick up her husband who went to Iran to visit a sick relative. She told FOX25 her husband – a mechanical engineer – hadn’t been able to get through customs. She said it had been two hours when she last spoke to him on the phone and it was unclear what was happening.

Eventually, he made it through customs and FOX25 was there as he was tearfully reunited with his family.

"I've been living here for almost 9 years," Hahmed said amid protests in the terminal. "This is my country."

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren made an appearance at Logan to speak to the crowd against the ban.

#MuslimBan protest happening at Boston Logan International Airport

Posted by Jacqui Heinrich on Saturday, January 28, 2017

Attorney Susan Church, who leads the New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, was also at the airport trying to connect with families who might need help.

Gov. Charlie Baker said Saturday he is opposed to religious tests for the nation's refugee system.

A spokesman for the Republican said Baker believes focusing on countries' predominant religions won't make the U.S. any safer because terrorists have found a way to strike from all corners of the world.

Baker's office issued the statement after President Donald Trump signed executive orders Friday suspending refugee admissions for 120 days and barring all immigration for 90 days from Muslim-majority countries with terrorism concerns: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Trump also indefinitely barred the processing of Syria refugees.

A Baker spokesman said he believes the federal government should focus on improving the existing techniques to stop dangerous people from entering the country, regardless of the nation they seek to strike from.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh joined the outcry against the ban, also appearing at Boston Logan airport Saturday night to make his voice heard.

Two Iranian researchers heading to jobs in Boston were also blocked from their journey by the immigration ban.

Samira Asgari was recruited by Soumya Raychaudhuri, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, to conduct postdoctoral research on tuberculosis.

Raychaudhuri said Saturday that Asgari flew from her home in Switzerland but was blocked as she tried to board a plane from Frankfurt to Boston.

Asgari tweeted: "I was pretty excited to join @soumya_boston's lab but denied boarding due to my Iranian nationality. Feeling safer?"

Thomas Michel, a Harvard Medical School professor and senior cardiologist at Brigham and Women's, said Seyed Soheil Saeedi Sarava was also on the verge of coming to Boston from Iran to pursue postdoctoral research into cardiovascular disease when his visa was suspended.

FOX25 also obtained an email sent to the MIT community Saturday by the Provost.

To the members of the MIT community:

The Executive Order President Trump signed yesterday restricting individuals from seven countries from entering the United States is already having an impact on members of our community.

While we are very troubled by this situation, our first concern is for those of our international students and scholars who are directly affected. We are working closely with them to offer every support we can.

We are also keeping close watch on the overall situation and exploring the best options to help and respond.

If you have specific questions, please contact David Elwell, associate dean and director of the International Students Office or Penny Rosser, director of the International Scholars Office.

Sincerely,
Martin A. Schmidt
Cynthia Barnhart
Maria T. Zuber

---

The Associated Press contributed to this report.