It was already shaping up to be a strange day when New York Representatives Jarrold Nadler and Nydia Velázquez arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport shortly after 11 on Saturday morning with no plans to take a flight.
“I was preparing to go to synagogue this morning and I got a call about this,” said Nadler, who represents New York’s 10th district in Manhattan and Brooklyn, while leaning back in an unforgiving airport chair. “And so I came.”
Religion turned out to be a recurring theme. Like many others, Nadler and Velázquez awoke to the news that President Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration, which was signed on Friday afternoon, had already ensnared several passengers traveling to the U.S. from one of the seven Muslim-majority countries included in the order. One of those passengers was Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi interpreter who risked his life to work with the U.S. government in Iraq for over a decade. Darweesh had been in the air when the president signed the immigration ban and was detained by Customs and Border Protection agents upon landing. As Nadler and Velázquez pushed for his release, word spread about Darweesh and several other passengers who were being held at the airport.