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Confusion, Invasive Questioning As Travelers Held At O'Hare On Sunday

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 30, 2017 5:21PM

Confusion and fear carried over for a second day at O’Hare International Airport on Sunday with lengthy detentions, invasive questionings of detainees and reports of travelers visiting from outside the banned-countries list being held.

Iran-born BBC journalist Ali Hamedani, a British citizen, was held for two hours at O’Hare on Sunday. Hamedani was made to surrender his phone and password to authorities, who then searched his social media.

“They were looking to find about any kind of political views, whether I'm supporting anybody - any kind of extremist idea or not," Hamedani told BBC Radio 5 Live, according to the Independent. “They also asked me questions about whether I have been trained by the military, if I had been trained in military bases in Iran or when was the last time I was back home in Iran.”

”It wasn't pleasant at all. To be honest with you, I was arrested back home in Iran in 2009 because I was working for the BBC and I felt the same this time,” Hamedani added.

As many as 50 people were detained on Sunday, lawyers told the Tribune.

Barius Elhalab, a 19-year-old American-passport holder, was held for more than three hours on Sunday and asked by authorities, “Do you love your country?” the Sun-Times reports.

Travelers with documentation from outside Trump’s restricted list of seven Muslim-majority nations were also impacted. Abed Romman, 29, waited to greet his brother, who was born in Syria but was traveling with a passport from Jordan, on Sunday. After more than five hours, Romman learned from volunteer lawyers that his brother would be sent back, according to the Sun-Times. Travelers arriving from Mexico were also held, lawyers told the Tribune. It’s not clear if these instances were related to Trump’s immigration ban. U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not return a request for comment.

More than a thousand protesters demonstrated at Terminal 5 at O'Hare for the second consecutive night on Sunday. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia were among those on hand.