The international arrivals door is where magic happens daily throughout the world. Mothers greet fathers. Children return home. Refugees and asylum seekers are embraced by a new society. Soldiers return from war. Visitors are welcomed to a new land. Opportunities for meaningful exchange begin. Lovers reunite. It is one of my favorite places, wherever I am in the world.
Yesterday, the international arrivals door at DFW Airport Terminal D was a scene of a different sort. Families waited to greet their loved ones placed in limbo by the swift and callous winds of change. A student from SMU waited, as his Syrian parents were held unable to join him. A 40-ish woman, US green card holder from Iran was detained 8 hours before she could greet her husband who was a US citizen. Another Syrian man on a valid visa coming to see his sons studying at SMU was forced to sign a form he didn’t understand, under threat of arrest.
Then something miraculous happened…people gathered in solidarity with these families to scream into the wind against the rabid offspring of fear. The sound was deafening and relentless, hundreds turned into thousands. Hours of chants, “USA”, “SILENCE IS VIOLENCE”, “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE”, an Episcopalian priest led the crowd in Christian hymns and we sang together in Arabic, led by our Muslim brothers and sisters.
As the frosted white door between customs and the USA remained closed and the SWAT teams stood at attention, we heard reports that there were custom officials in tears on the other side. Unable to get answers from the DHS or the White House. Our mayor arrived to state his opposition to these executive actions and our U.S. House members and Dallas County judges were in the crowd, standing alongside us as we screamed for justice.
The crowd embraced when the stay was ordered and passed around pizza, fruit and well wishes. It was peaceful, respectful and powerful. The police had the slightest of smile and nodded their heads in our direction. When it was time for prayer, a Christian woman took the sign of a nearby Muslim woman and said, “you go pray, I will stay.”
I went to the international arrivals door at DFW Airport yesterday to speak to the families, learn their stories and link them to legal advocates, if needed. Turns out, many of my American brothers and sisters had the same idea. What I saw was exactly what makes America great.
It’s love, actually.
Jan 28, 2017
DFW Airport, Texas