Driving down the highway to JFK Airport on around 1 p.m. yesterday, I was surprised at how empty the streets were. There was no traffic, and we quickly found parking in a lot right in front of Terminal 4.

I headed there because I wanted to see how New Yorkers were handling President Trump's discriminatory immigration ban. I hitched a ride with some friends and when we arrived at the protest site, there were perhaps 100 people gathered in the cold, waving signs and chanting—"Let them in, Let them in, Let them in," "This shit is illegal, I-L-L-E-G-A-L, this shit is illegal" and "Build a wall, we'll tear it down."

One hundred people schlepping out to Kennedy on a grey winter day on short notice seemed like a pretty big coup for the event's organizers, but then more people just kept coming and coming. Pizza and water bottles and hand warmers went around. The chanting went on for hours, basically uninterrupted. (Some people really blew out their voices.)

The crowd grew to hundreds and then what appeared to be thousands, spilling out across the drop-off road in front of the terminal and into the streets. People were up in the parking garage overlooking the terminal for hours, exposed to the wind and without insulation from a large crowd.

I spoke to a dozen or more people, representing a solid cross section of the crowd. All were angry, many scared. But they didn't seem demoralized. They stayed, for hours and hours. Pizza boxes became impromptu signs. Parents held onto their kids, fresh out of dance practice in Manhattan or coming from their homes nearby in Queens. A group of Yemeni men stood around, chatting and filming the action.

Ghamdan Abdo, 33, drives an Uber and said he'd been decided to come spur-of-the-moment. "I saw the protest and I said, 'Why not, let me come and join them?'" He said he has a friend whose family had secured visas from Yemen, but got stuck en route and are now waiting in Djibouti.

"These people are just hard-working people. They're like me, they're like you. They're running from wars, from a lot of things. They came here to live better."

I assumed the combination of cold and darkness would start to thin the crowd, but people were still showing up at 7 p.m.. They flooded out into the streets, still chanting, "Fuck the wall, we'll tear it down" and "Not on our watch, not in our name." A few folks danced. It was electric.

Around 9 p.m., when word of of the stay came through, spread along the human mic, there was just a surging roar, punctuated by people drumming on buckets. The crowd started to sing.

Walking back to the AirTrain, I spoke to a Muslim couple from Ozone Park who had brought their son and daughter—six and nine—to the rally. The woman, a 32-year-old schoolteacher, said this was her kids' first protest. (She declined to give her name.)

"They are very excited about it, that they can have their voice heard at this point," she said. "And it's something close to their heart. They are American citizens, but to see that there are others that are not allowed to come, it made them upset."

She said she was encouraged by the solidarity of her crowd and that she and her husband had come out to stand for something fundamental.

"We want to voice our opinion that we are all welcome here and that America is built with immigrants," she said.

"It has happened before. It should not happen again. We have learned through the Holocaust, it should not just happen."