On Sunday afternoon, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport officials announced nine plane passengers held since arriving at D/FW Airport on Saturday were cleared by Customs to be released to their families. [[412099303,C]]
The passengers were reunited with family members at the Park Plaza Towers near I-635 and Central Expressway.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings greeted detainees at the Center for American-Islamic Relations and apologized to them. Rawlings tweeted, "From the bottom of my heart, I apologize to those detained this weekend and their families."
One detainee was from Iraq, five were from Iran, two were from Syria and one was from Sudan, immigration attorneys told NBC 5's Chris Jose.
According to NBC 5's Homa Bash, despite earlier conflicting reports that additional detainees were being held at D/FW Airport, attorneys at the airport said no one else was being held as of 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
Around that time, an organizer of the protest told people it was OK to leave, and most protesters filed out of Terminal D. [[412102243,C]]
The latest news from around North Texas.
Throughout the day, protesters demonstrated at D/FW Airport to ask for the detainees' release. They also voiced displeasure with President Donald Trump's executive order. [[412098343,C]]
President Trump's travel ban barring citizens of seven predominantly Muslim nations entry into the U.S. has sparked protests around the country. A federal judge has temporarily halted deportations of people from countries subject to the travel ban.
The crowd of a few dozen ballooned into hundreds of demonstrators who frequently chanted "Set them free!"
On Sunday afternoon, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price released the following statement:
In an effort to address the nation's concerns regarding border security, the most recent rollout of the executive order regarding illegal immigration has caused deep alarm for many whose families are affected by the visa/refugee process. I stand with those who desire to see that our nation can protect the safety of its citizens while remaining as a refuge for those who are persecuted by and seeking a better life through legal immigration.
Additionally, I will work with our congressional delegation and have been in touch with the DFW airport staff on our response to those affected immediately and also any long-term implications for our city. My heart hurts for the families who are impacted by this sudden change. As a community, Fort Worth is committed to being compassionate in our approach to those fleeing troubled parts of the world and will continue to tangibly partner with refugee resettlement agencies across the city that meet those needs.
Among those held at the airport at midnight Saturday was a 70-year-old Iranian widow, Shahin Hassanpour, whose son said she suffers from high blood pressure and had breast cancer surgery four years ago. She obtained an immigrant visa in November on her son's petition.
Bahzad Honarjou, a 43-year-old network engineer, said he spoke twice to his mother by phone after her 9:00 a.m. arrival, but that they hadn't talked since courts stayed the executive order, meaning she should have been released.
Hundreds of protesters stood in the waiting area and chanted "This is what democracy looks like." Immigration agents were not being very communicative, Honarjou said. [[412112063,C]]
"They were like a machine when I talked to them today," he said. His mother only speaks a few words of English and a fellow passenger was translating for her from her native Farsi as no immigration agents spoke the language, he said.
Hassanpour was originally going to be deported on a Sunday flight, she informed her son the first time they spoke. "She was about to cry," he said.
"She is not able to take (tolerate) a 20-hour flight back to Iran." Honarjou said he is a U.S. citizen, obtained entry in a lottery, and has been in the country for seven years. Why did he come? "To have a better life and to make more money," he said. "And, you know, for the freedom."