Donald Trump came under fire from mass protests and global outrage over his controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim countries, facing the first real test of his nine-day administration.
The ban was criticized by allies, sparked confusion over its implementation and galvanized Democrats looking for a lightning rod to beat Trump. There was growing unease among Republican lawmakers as well.
Four federal judges moved to halt deportations, around 300 people were stopped or detained worldwide and US civil rights lawyers warned it could ultimately come down to a battle between the Trump administration and the Supreme Court.
The decree suspends the arrival of all refugees for at least 120 days, Syrian refugees indefinitely and bars citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
Thousands of demonstrators poured onto the streets and gathered at airports for two consecutive days to denounce the executive order as lawyers fought for the release of those detained on arrival — many of them were in mid-air when Trump signed the decree.
Under fire from all quarters, Trump issued an official White House statement to deny it was a Muslim ban and blast the media for its coverage. “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion — this is about terror and keeping our country safe,” he said.
In New York, police estimated that 10,000 gathered in Battery Park across the river from the Statue of Liberty — America´s famed beacon of freedom and immigration. Several thousand more protested outside the White House.
Hundreds more demonstrated in Boston. Demonstrations were held at Washington´s Dulles Airport and airports in Los Angeles, Orlando and Sacramento. Activists scheduled other rallies in Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City and Seattle. (AFP)