"Let Them In!" - Protest at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport

O’Hare International Airport was filled with people on the night of Saturday the 28th of January, but hardly anyone had luggage. We walked, not stood, on the moving walkway and made our way to the trams. Children held their parents’ gloved hands and quiet songs broke out as the tram took us all to Terminal 5: International Arrivals and Departures. By the time the tram pulled in, we could see the crowd of hundreds standing outside in the bitter cold, signs and flags waving in the air. 

“NO BAN NO WALL”

“YOU ARE SAFE HERE”

“WELCOME TO CHICAGO”

On January 27th, Trump signed an order that bans immigrants and citizens from several Middle Eastern countries from entering the United States. This unprecedented order created outrage and anger amongst millions of Americans and was immediately criticized as a ‘Muslim ban’. While Trump and his team denied any racial profiling, the damage was already done. Dozens of people across the globe were now banned from entering the US, and many who had landed in the country while the order was passed now faced being detained and possibly deported. Knowing that families and loved ones of those being affected by this would need aid, hundreds of lawyers and legislators joined protesters at airports across the country. At O’Hare alone, over 3,000 people came out to protest this atrocious ban.

In the terminal, protesters led one another in chants that echoed throughout the building. “Let them in, now!” and “Hey hey, oh oh, Donald Trump has got to go!” caught on quickly and were used to keep morale up as the night progressed. While the ACLU announced that the release of several detainees had been arranged, those who came to O’Hare to help immigrant families still had a lot of work on their hands. Stacks of pizza boxes and dozens of coffee cups littered makeshift tables while tattered signs that read “Need legal help? I’m a lawyer!” rested on empty chairs.

Outside, the chants were more louder and angrier. One of the protesters brought a megaphone and was shouting the numbers of Illinois representatives. “If we all call, someone has to get through!”, she shouted. The crowd formed a human chain at one point and all sat down in solidarity. Flags from Syria, Senegal, and Iraq flew proudly in the sky alongside American flags. Protesters stayed late into the night and hundreds returned the following day to continue their outrage.

While several organizations are now suing Trump’s administration and many more are declaring the ban unconstitutional, it remains unclear what will happen in weeks to come. For now, Chicago stands alongside the rest of the country.