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After Trump's Immigration Ban, DFW Detainees And Families Reel From Harrowing Weekend

Stella M. Chávez
Fort Worth teenager Fal Mohammed was at the airport with her siblings, eagerly anticipating a visit from their 67-year-old grandmother, who flew in from Sudan Saturday. She hadn’t be to the U.S. in 20 years. ";

President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on citizens and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries caused chaos at airports around the country — including Dallas-Fort International Airport. 


Early Saturday morning, Khalied Abdaan drove from his home in Oklahoma City to D/FW. He and his 9-year-old daughter were excited to pick up his 77-year-old mother. They never thought they’d end up at the airport all day and into the night…waiting.

“Set them free. Now. Set them free. Now…”

 They also couldn’t have have imagined hundreds of protesters, holding signs and chanting, would join them in solidarity.

“The people united will never be divided. The people united will never be divided. Muslim rights are human rights. Muslim rights are human rights…”  

Abdaan was worried when first he heard about Trump’s executive order to keep people from several countries from entering the U.S. But, when his mother’s plane departed from Dubai, he thought she would be OK.

 As midnight came, and Saturday turned to Sunday, Abdaan and his daughter were exhausted, and still waiting.

“They shouldn’t be detained and they shouldn’t be treated like this," he said. "I mean, she had a valid visa and she followed the law.”

He was one of several relatives stuck in limbo and frustrated. They couldn’t see their loved ones, and their cell phone contact was limited. Abdaan lamented his poor timing.

“If I could just change the date. Two days earlier is gonna be good and two days in the future is gonna be good, because two days in the future, I would save her the trouble and the suffering she’s been put through.” 

All day Saturday, the crowd at D/FW’s international terminal — Terminal D — kept growing. They brought signs, wrapped themselves in flags and made a lot of noise. Police roped off the area with yellow tape, making room for travelers passing by. They estimated at least 1,000 people were there.

 “Ole Ole Ole Ole…”

And they even broke into song, singing a popular soccer anthem.
'The problem with Trump's ban is it's targeting a specific religious group, which is complete discrimination.'

Fort Worth teenager Fal Mohammed was there with her siblings, eagerly anticipating a visit from their 67-year-old grandmother, who flew in from Sudan. She hadn’t be to the U.S. in 20 years. 

“This is a really exciting thing for her to come here finally again, and all of sudden, just our luck, Trump’s ban hits us right in the face,” she said.


Credit Linah Mohammad / KERA News special contributor
KERA News special contributor
North Texas Resistance movement organizing to send post cards to congress at DFW Airport Sunday.

The family worried for hours. Fal’s grandma is diabetic and in a wheelchair. Late Saturday, a federal judge stayed Trump’s executive order, keeping the government from deporting people arriving from countries affected by the ban.

By Sunday afternoon, Fal’s grandmother and eight other detained travelers were reunited with family. But Fal says it should have never happened in the first place.

“The problem with Trump’s ban is it’s targeting a specific religious group, which is complete discrimination.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters Sunday he apologized to families for their experience and welcomed them to the city.


Credit Osama Al Olabi / Twitter
Image of four of the nine detainees after they were released. This photo was sent to KERA intern Linah Mohammad from Osama Al Olabi, an SMU student who waited for his Syrian parents overnight Saturday. His parents are the two in the middle.

For more coverage, explore our blog from the weekend. 

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.