This is what democracy looks like


Saturday, January 29, 2017. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

People began arriving at the Arrivals Hall at Terminal D (International Terminal) sometime midday once they heard about the plight of travelers with valid, government-issued travel documents who had been detained by Customs and Border Patrol since early morning. The Trump administration (I refuse to call him “President”) had signed an Executive Order titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” just the day before, and among its horrifying diktat were decrees calling on the immediate suspension of the critical United States Refugee Admissions Program for at least 120 days, and the implementation of “Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs.” Not surprisingly, the administration — filled as it is with people with little or no experience running a federal agency, let alone one that manages one of the largest refugee and immigration programs in the world — offered no guidance to the affected agencies, leaving the latter scrambling to interpret the policies in the Executive Order (EO).

Meanwhile, millions of travelers, thousands of flights, and untold number of families and friends at airports in the United States and around the world, had no idea was about to happen.

DFW is probably one of the last places a lot of North Texans one would expect to find active, engaged and passionate protestors. A few times during the evening, as word spread like wildfire around the Metroplex on social media and the crowds began to swell, several of us had to remind national media and advocacy groups to include #DFW in their lists of airports hosting active protests. But what mattered was that, without any planning or organization or any kind of coordination, several hundred people, most of whom had no direct connection to the travelers stranded and detained by CBP, had given up their Saturday night to exercise their rights to free speech and assembly on behalf of those who could not. I salute them, I salute us.

By the way, on the other side of reason, this is what the Trump Administration had to say about the chaos that the Executive Order unleashed at airports around the world: