Add the Joplin airport to a growing number that have played host to protests against President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and travelers from some Muslim countries.
More than two dozen people gathered on Tuesday afternoon holding signs and chanting in protest of what they called an un-American executive order.
Trump signed an order last week temporarily barring entry to the country by refugees and immigrants from seven majority-Muslim nations: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.
The move delivered on Trump’s campaign promise of “extreme vetting” at the U.S. borders, but it appeared to catch top government officials by surprise, and led to delays and, in at least one case, denial of entry for legal residents.
According to a federal law enforcement official briefed on the implementation of the order, nearly 400 green-card holders were delayed after arriving at U.S. airports after the travel ban was signed.
“I believe refugees are people too,” said Arielle Speer, a regional coordinator for the Green Alliance of Southwest Missouri. “Our country was founded by immigrants. To tell people they aren’t welcome in our big melting pot is disgraceful.”
The protest in Joplin was put on by her organization, an offshoot of the Green Party. Many of the people present on Tuesday afternoon also came out for protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline last year.
Most supported Jill Stein in the presidential election after Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic primary.
Frank Sierra, a pastor at St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Joplin, sighed.
“We have to stand together and demand justice,” he said. “I’m not affected by the ban. It’s human decency and Christian principles — love thy neighbor.”
That credo was echoed on the protesters’ cardboard signs, which they waved at passing cars, drawing honks and some disapproving shouts.
“No ban, no hate,” read one.
“We are all immigrants,” was another.
“Deport fascism,” said a third, echoing concerns among some protesters that Trump’s administration is showing early signs of authoritarianism.
“This is not the USA I grew up in,” said Amber Hallacy, 54, of Pittsburg, Kansas. “He’s taking those first steps into dictatorship, trying to silence people who don’t agree with him.”
Trump has sought to limit the public statements of several executive branch agencies.
Protesters said they had been surprised by the speed with which Trump moved to act on his campaign promises.
“It’s been exhausting,” said Camille Stauffer, 24.
Trumps executive orders on immigration have sowed chaos, upending plans for travel, inspiring protests at airports around the country and leading to the firing of acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to defend the order.
Pushback came from around the nation and the world.
Protests sprung up at airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, New York's JFK, Raleigh, Houston, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta and more, CNN reported.
San Francisco, one of the “sanctuary cities” implicated in Trump’s order, announced Tuesday that it would sue the president, arguing the order is unconstitutional. The attorney general of Washington state will also sue Trump, focusing on the travel ban that sparked protests across the country.
Iranian foreign ministry officials announced Tuesday that their country will no longer issue visas to Americans, a step that was described as a “counteraction” to Trump’s executive orders.
Trump’s supporters, including leaders of the Republican Party, have stood behind the policy.
"The president has a responsibility to the security of this country," said House Speaker Paul Ryan. "What is happening is something that we support, which is: We need to pause. And we need to make sure the vetting standards are up to snuff so that we can guarantee the safety and security of our country. That is what this does."
As of Sunday afternoon, one legal permanent resident had been denied entry as a result of the order, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person wasn't allowed to discuss the matter publicly.
As the protests spread, Trump distorted the number of people who had been detained at airports on his orders. "Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning,” he said in a tweet.
Trump also mischaracterized delays and confusion at airports around the country, calling them the result of a Delta Airlines computer failure. The chaos and protests at airports around the country began before that happened and were related to the travel ban, not delayed or canceled flights.
The Associate Press contributed to this report.