Hundreds of volunteers held signs "welcome" signs in multiple languages near Los Angeles International Airport, ahead of an appeals court hearing in Virginia on Monday regarding the Trump administration's revised travel ban.
The ban has been placed on hold in the courts, and if reinstated, would temporarily bar travelers from six majority-Muslim countries.
The Los Angeles event on Saturday was organized by the city’s tourism office, and although nonpolitical, organizers say it is intended to show the city’s openness.
Tourism in California has been growing for the past seven years and supports 1 million jobs, according to the state’s tourism agency, Visit California. The agency expects slowing growth, however, because of the strong U.S. dollar and President Donald Trump’s actions and statements on immigration.
The Los Angeles campaign, called Everyone is Welcome, assembled volunteers near the airport’s northern runways to hold placards whose characters, in Arabic, Chinese, Spanish and English, could be read from the air. As aircraft arrived at several-minute intervals, volunteers hoisted the signs to display their message.
“The message today is that you meet new people here,” said volunteer Donna Singleton, an African-American and part of a diverse group of volunteers. She said she has been helping at events that promote her home city since the summer Olympics in 1984, and said Los Angeles reflects the same diversity as the visitors it welcomes from all parts of the world.
'We are all human beings'
Another volunteer, Indian immigrant Koushik Cattopadhyay, is a medical scientist who has become a Hollywood actor. He said this rally is not about politics but reaching out to others.
“It doesn’t matter what accent the person has, what skin color the person has, what religious faith or what sexual orientation the person has. We are all human beings," Cattopadhyay said.
Volunteer Nicole Woyack, who moved to Los Angeles from neighboring Arizona nine years ago, said she found the city welcoming and that the “welcome” message is needed “because there’s so much division going on in the world right now.”
Volunteer Demi Mann said she is sharing her affection for Los Angeles. “It’s a beautiful city,” said the British-born actress, who divides her time between London and Hollywood.
"Travel brings people together,” said Jamie Foley of Discover Los Angeles. She said the message directed to the airborne passengers celebrates “diversity and inclusivity,” and lets them know that everyone is welcome in L.A.