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Protestors On Both Sides Of Trump's Immigration Ban Meet At Los Angeles Airport


Now we want to head to Los Angeles International Airport which has been the scene of demonstrations against President Trump's efforts to restrict entry to the U.S. by people from certain countries. At airports around the country, family and friends have been gathering to greet loved ones who had been kept out due to the new restrictions. And protests with very different views are also gathering.

NPR's Nathan Rott is at LAX now to tell us what's going on there. He's on the line now. Nate, thanks so much for joining us. What's the scene there?

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Well, it's pretty interesting. I'm outside of the Tom Bradley International arrivals terminal. This is where thousands of people arrive to the U.S. every day. And imagine you're one of these people - right? - walking out of customs through a crowded terminal and out in the Southern California sun, and you have these two loud and growing groups that have set up on either side of the road here. Both are waving American flags, holding signs.

But you got one group chanting things like no ban, no wall, America is meant for all and holding signs that say welcome home. Some of these folks have been protesting Trump's travel ban since last weekend when there were thousands of people that were here. On the other side of the road, you're hearing chants like make America safe again, and America first. They just got done singing "God Bless America." And these are folks who are obviously supportive of the ban and are not welcoming to some of these new arrivals.

MARTIN: How can you compare it to the protests we saw last week at airports around the country? What's the - is the feeling very similar or is it different now?

ROTT: I think the feeling's changed somewhat. I mean, I was not here last weekend, but one of my colleagues was. And he was telling me that it was much bigger. I talked to a few people that were here last week, and it said that there are - I mean, there were thousands of people at the airport. At most right now I'd say maybe there's a thousand for and against. And people are, you know - some people are more excited with this most recent news, and some people are disappointed.

I talked to one man who's here, and he's wearing a make-America-great-again hat. He's holding a sign that says Trump is love. And when I asked him about how that sign that squares with this ban that some are calling anti-Muslim and hateful, he said that Trump did it because he loves America and their safety. And he said that the ban makes him feel safer. Folks on the other side were really excited about the temporary restraining order and are just looking forward to being able to welcome some of these people here.

MARTIN: And to that point made very briefly - do we know whether any people who were turned away by the ban last week have started to arrive at the airport?

ROTT: I have not seen anybody personally. I talked to a - I mean, one thing to bear in mind that - this restraining order was put in place last night for a lot of the affected countries. And it's a long flight or series of flights from Africa or the Middle East where these affected countries are. I talked to an immigrant's rights attorney here who said that she expects people to start arriving either later today or tomorrow as folks are able to make new travel plans and factor all of this in. For refugees, she said, it's going to be a longer process. There's more paperwork that's involved, so it may be a while before we see them arriving at airports.

MARTIN: All right. That's NPR's Nathan Rott at Los Angeles International Airport. And as you said, we can hear the demonstrations going on behind you.

ROTT: Yeah.

MARTIN: Nate, thank you.

ROTT: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.