Hundreds protest immigration ban at Miami International Airport

Nationwide protests against President Donald Trump’s executive action temporarily banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries reached Miami yesterday. Hundreds turned out – in spite of weather that actually resembled winter – to voice their anger at the ban and their support for the immigrant and refugee community in South Florida.

Signed the night of Jan. 27, the action also indefinitely bans entry to all Syrian refugees.

The hasty executive order – parts of which were almost immediately blocked by federal judges in a couple different spots in the U.S.  – has been dubbed the “Muslim ban” by opponents. In many airports, Muslim green card holders and others with valid U.S. visas carrying passports from any of the seven countries were detained, in some instances without access to legal representation.

Customs and Border Patrol officials at Miami International Airport refused to say whether anyone was being detained at MIA. Still, protesters fiercely expressed their opposition to the order, chanting things like “The people ban Trump” and “When black and brown bodies are under attack, what do we do? Fight back.” At one point they even shut down traffic.

Around 4 p.m., the crowd dispersed, and only a few protesters continued chanting, heading downstairs to the Arrivals floor. Miami-Dade police officers said there were no arrests made at the protest.


Immigration ban protest at MIA

Live from the protest at MIA …

Posted by The New Tropic on Sunday, January 29, 2017


Allison Sardinas, a student activist at FIU and the organizer of the rally, said she came up the idea at 9 p.m. the night before and was delighted with the speed and strength of the community response.

#MuslimBan protest at MIA

Posted by The New Tropic on Sunday, January 29, 2017


“It was actually really easy to organize,” she said, “all you have to do is make a Facebook event and share it with your friends, and it really will take off from there.”

Sardinas was inspired by the protests at John F. Kennedy International Airport and other major hubs of international travel, and thought Miami needed to voice its concerns about the ban.

“We’re a minority-majority city. We should be represented in some way,” she said.

The crowd at the airport was diverse: mothers, college students, lawyers, activists, preachers. These were their reasons for being there.


Rafael Velásquez, finance chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic party

Rafael Velasquez (Isabella Cueto/The New Tropic)
Rafael Velasquez (Isabella Cueto/The New Tropic)

“This is just the beginning.The Democratic Party and the people are going to stand up to the racism, hatred, fear, and xenophobia of the Trump Administration.”


Frank Corbishley, Episcopal minister at the University of Miami

Frank Corbishley (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)
Frank Corbishley (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)

“We were just talking about this after church this morning, people are trying to figure out what their role is in this. Chose the organization that fits your passion, get on their email. For Christians, standing up for vulnerable people is mandatory.”


Muriel Leguillou, an immigrant from France

Muriel Leguillou (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)
Muriel Leguillou (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)

Leguillou, an immigrant from France, became a U.S. citizen 18 months ago. She was stationed in France with her ex-husband, who was in the military. She has a biracial 13-year-old son and said she became more involved in activism because of the discrimination her son has faced.

“We are poorly treated here,” she said. To those who are against immigrants and refugees, she’d say, “I hope that you don’t ever have to wear our shoes.”


Laura Kallus, with her four-year-old son, Luca Kallus-Murray

Laura and Luca Kallus (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)
Laura and Luca Kallus (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)

“As a Christian, I believe it’s our responsibility to stand up for all refugees, all immigrants and people that are different from us. I want to teach my son compassion and tolerance for all people. … This is what America is about.”

Kallus took her 11-year-old son to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington.

“I feel like white women have failed our non-white sisters and their causes. And I’ve made a promise for myself that I’m going to show up for them.”


Olivia Ball and Moira Ball, sisters from Buenos Aires

Olivia and Moira Ball (Isabella Cueto/The New Tropic)
Olivia and Moira Ball (Isabella Cueto/The New Tropic)

They moved to the U.S. with their family 22 years ago. Their father got a work visa and brought the family over. Since then they’ve become citizens. They were flying to New York on Sunday, and knew the protest was happening so they came early to have time to participate before they left.
Olivia: “It’s craziness. I can’t believe it and I can’t stand it. Everything he’s done goes very against my morals as a person … What he’s doing is against what’s legal and what the U.S. is about.”

Moira: “It also goes against everything the U.S. has done so far,” she said. “It’s almost ironic what’s happening.”


Thomas Sharpless, from the Toledo, Ohio area

Thomas Sharpless (Isabella Cueto/The New Tropic)
Thomas Sharpless (Isabella Cueto/The New Tropic)

He was in Miami visiting his daughter, who is an attorney and director of the University of Miami School of Law’s Immigration Clinic.

“What would be better than to come out here in the rain and stand up for something?”


Jesus Valentino, an attorney

Jesus Valentino (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)
Jesus Valentino (Mario Ariza/The New Tropic)

“When I woke up this morning and I saw what was going on — normally it’s my lazy Sunday — I had to come out.”

Isabella Cueto contributed to this report.

By Mario Ariza
Mario Alejandro Ariza is a Dominican immigrant who grew up in Miami. A Michener Fellow in poetry at the University of Miami’s Master in Fine Arts program, he is currently working on a nonfiction book about South Florida and Sea Level Rise. On a day with a good swell and northeasterly breezes, you’ll find him surfing on South Beach (yes, there’s actually surfing Miami.)