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Protesters, Experts Call Trump's Immigration Orders Divisive

BOSTON (CBS/AP) -- After President Trump signed an immigration freeze on people from certain Muslim countries, protesters across the country are voicing their dissent.

In Boston, protesters marched from Chinatown to the Statehouse, decrying the freeze on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries on Saturday. The orders, protesters say, are based in division, but have ended up uniting many in protest.

"There's a lot of fear, I hear it every day," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. "There's a lot of fear and there's a lot of anger. There are folks who like what Trump is saying but not fully understanding what he means by it, so it's really I think dividing. We should be uniting the country not dividing the country."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker also opposes the ban.

"Governor Baker opposes applying religious tests to the refugee system and believes that focusing on countries' predominant religions will not make the U.S. any safer as terrorists have demonstrated a determination to strike from all corners of the world," a Baker representatives said. "Instead, Governor Baker believes the federal government should focus on improving the techniques and systems in place to stop dangerous people from entering the country, regardless of the nation they seek to strike from."

Some, however, feel united as a result.

immigration protest
Protesters says Trump's immigration order is divisive. (WBZ-TV)

"It forces people in groups like this to come together and say, 'I'm going to stand with you. I'm going to work with you, I'm going to walk with you,  I'm going to protect you. Because black, brown, yellow, blue, green no longer matters," Ed Carson said. "Gay or straight, we have to support each other from all of the oppression that's happening."

"The executive orders are causing massive outrage among all communities, even if the communities are not directly effected by those executive orders," Victoria Bilcik added. "I think that speaks for itself, the sheer numbers of people that are showing up."

Protesters also showed up at Logan Airport Saturday night, where lawyers offered free legal counsel to anyone being detained because of the ban.

immigration protest
Protesters showed up at Logan Airport Saturday. (WBZ-TV)

"We've got a lot of people really scared, a lot of families here wondering what's going to happen to their loved ones, and we want to make sure that we're getting them information, that we're getting them resources," Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said.

"There are a minimum of six people who have been detained or sent back already, or denied access to the plane and not allowed to come in," Susan Church, an immigration attorney who was at the airport, said. "We also know of at least three families of refugees who were overseas on a vacation in Egypt and have not been able to return to the United States even though they all have lawful permanent resident status."

Saturday night, a federal judge granted a stay on Trump's order, preventing approved refugees and people with valid visas who are already on U.S. soil from being deported. Even after the stay was granted, protesters continued.

immigration protest
Protesters stayed at Logan Airport into the night. (WBZ-TV)

"I'm alive because my great grandparents were allowed to immigrate here and escape Poland during the Holocaust," one woman said. "I'm privileged now, so it's my time to use my privilege to make sure other people can get that privilege."

"My future is very uncertain now that Trump is President. He might cancel the program for me to be here," a man said. "As someone that's Latino, as someone who has been undocumented before, I think it's important for me to stand."

Another protester called the freeze "cruel" and "inhumane."

A New England refugee resettlement agency says President Trump's immigration freeze isn't only dividing the nation, but dividing families.

Case manager Rahmatullah Aka from the International Institute of New England says Trump's temporary ban on immigrants from the seven Muslim majority countries is leaving a lot of families in limbo.

immigration protest
Protesters demonstrated against President Trump's latest executive order on immigration. (WBZ-TV)

"They waited a long time for the permits and they finally reach here and their family is behind. They are worried about that," Aka said. "Probably they will not be able to get together with their families. So this is a major problem for immigrants."

Aka says the executive order allows legal immigrants who are already in the U.S. to stay, but bans their families from coming over.

"They are all documented immigrants. Now they are worried about the future of their families," he said.

Legal permanent residents who are outside the country now won't be allowed back in for 90 days as a result of the order. The order also suspends all refugee admissions for four months and bans the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely.

In addition to reports of refugees being detained in airports on their way to the United States, reports have surfaced of academics being barred entry into the country.

Two Iranian researchers heading to jobs in Boston have been turned back after President Donald Trump halted immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations including Iran.

Samira Asgari was recruited by Soumya Raychaudhuri, an associate professor of medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, to conduct postdoctoral research on tuberculosis.

Raychaudhuri said Saturday that Asgari flew from her home in Switzerland but was blocked as she tried to board a plane from Frankfurt to Boston.

Asgari tweeted: "I was pretty excited to join @soumya_boston's lab but denied boarding due to my Iranian nationality. Feeling safer?"

Thomas Michel, a Harvard Medical School professor and senior cardiologist at Brigham and Women's, said Seyed Soheil Saeedi Sarava was also on the verge of coming to Boston from Iran to pursue postdoctoral research into cardiovascular disease when his visa was suspended.

There is reportedly another demonstration planned for Sunday in protest of the order.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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