Rally against immigration executive order in Wichita

Rallies against Trump's executive order, as administration defends ban

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Mass rallies against President Trump’s executive order on travel from seven countries and a refugee program were held Sunday, including two in Wichita.

Hundreds turned out at a surprise rally in front of the Islamic Society of Wichita. Cars honked and crowds waved as more than 100 people gathered, all of them believing the travel ban was wrong.

"Whenever we, basically, demoralize and dehumanize an entire group of people, based on their culture or religion, we run the risk of fascism," said Liz McGenness, one of the Wichita residents who attended the rally. "Most Muslims do not associate with radical Islamic terrorism."

Ages were vast, and many parents came out. They said they wanted to teach their kids tolerance.

“"I want to make sure that my daughter doesn't make the same mistake that our generation or her grandparents' generation made that got us to that point,” said Ryan Lewis.

The rally was a surprise to the Islamic Society leaders, who said they didn’t know about it until they saw the people arrive with signs.

“A lot of hope, that there's a lot of good in the world, period. Especially here in Wichita," was the reaction of Hussam Madi with the Islamic Society of Wichita.

The Trump Administration defended the executive order on Sunday.

"I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria," the President said in a statement. "My first priority will always be to protect and serve our country, but as President I will find ways to help all those who are suffering.”

Similar protests were held at airports across the country. A similar protest Sunday afternoon attracted about 250 people at Eisenhower Airport in Wichita.

"Dividing people this way is not the right way," Syrian-American Ranya Taha said as she stood in the demonstration line.

"They should be accepted, no matter what their religion," added Coumba Diop, whose family is Muslim. "This is a country of freedom, this is a melting pot. If we could just co-exist and love each other."

But in defending the ban, President Trump said it was not a matter of religion, but national security. He wrote on Twitter the U.S. needs strong borders and extreme vetting now. 

Aides to Trump said the administration may add more countries to the ban in the future.

EARLIER STORY: Wichitans unite against Trump travel order

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