NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A crowd of hundreds from all faiths and creeds gathered in Duncan Plaza Sunday afternoon to protest President Trump's executive order enacting a travel ban on seven countries in the Middle East and Africa.
President Trump said the order is not a Muslim ban, but many protesters felt the order was a thinly veiled attack against one religion, a reason why they were happy to see a diverse crowd at the rally.
"We've never seen this before the whole united for Muslims and this is the first time I've seen this. I see Spanish down here, I see Chinese down here, I see Americans, and I see different religions and they came for us, to support us," said Salila Sally Idrissou, an Algerian immigrant.
Sara Al-Dahir, an Iraqi-American, was born a US citizen, but still has family overseas in refugee status, some for the last eight years.
Saturday she found out one family member, who was close to coming to America with refugee status, likely now won't get that chance.
"[My] aunt in Iraq was approved for a visa around November, hopefully, to come in March, but that will not happen now," Al-Dahir said.
She said her aunt spent nearly two years getting approval on her refugee status, while other family members have waited even longer.
"It takes years and years to get a visa and it is a very difficult and long process with a tremendous amount of vetting involved. So [Trump's] initial reasoning did not make sense to me because those who are approved for visas went through years and years of vetting already," Al-Dahir said.
President Trump said the temporary ban for some countries is in place so his administration can figure out how to create what they call an "extreme vetting" process.
Republican leaders, like House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, think the President is simply following through with a campaign promise and doing whatever it takes to keep Americans safe.
"ISIS has said they want to infiltrate a lot of these refugee programs and we've seen them carry that out in Europe. So we want to make sure that people who are coming into the United States aren't being infiltrated by terrorist organizations and until that can be done I think this freeze from certain countries, where we cannot vet, makes a lot of sense," Scalise said.
Still, Al-Dahir argues refugees from the countries on the list can be extensively vetted and said her family is proof the process already works.
"So there are multiple levels of the coin to this and I think it would benefit people that they understand how complex the processes is and it's designed not only to ensure our dream as Americans but also to ensure the safety of this country," Al-Dahir said.