Two Iraqi men with valid visas filed a lawsuit against Republican President Donald Trump's administration after being denied entry to the U.S. at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Friday, arguing the president's executive order preventing citizens of Iraq and six other Muslim-majority countries from coming into the U.S. for 90 days is illegal.
Amid reports of dozens of others including refugees and visa holders being detained at the airport, the New York Immigration Coalition asked for activists to stage a protest outside JFK Terminal 4 on Saturday morning. By early afternoon, according to Mic's Jack Smith IV, at least 250 demonstrators had arrived, with the crowd continuing to grow.
Following efforts by U.S. Reps. Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez, at least one of the Iraqis, former U.S. military translator Hameed Jhalid Darweesh, was released from detainment.
New York State Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who said his district is the most diverse in the country with over 200 nationalities in three neighborhoods, told Smith called Trump's decision "outrageous" and slammed the "useless executive order that has just been driven to divide our country."
"We are here to say that we stand with folks that have the legal right of entry to our country," Moya said. "New York has always been that port of entry for immigrants to come here."
"There's a real movement that's not just happening here in New York, it's happening all over the country," he added. "People are standing up and they're rising up against these executive orders that are just being delivered to divide this country. This is a country that was founded on immigrants, they have been contributing to this country and the very fabric of our society."
"The person that was just released spent 10 years working alongside our troops and Americans in Iraq, helping us fight in the war," Moya concluded. "The fact that he was vetted, given a legal visa to enter this country and was still detained by this executive order? ... Outrageous, it's something that we can not stand for."
Jack Smith IV contributed reporting to this article