It had been five hours since 25-year-old Maryam "Aida" Mohammadi had moved. The cold, metal seats in Washington Dulles International Airport combined with the weight of a sleeping Artiman Jalali, her 5-year-old cousin, were making her body numb.
Hours before, Mohammadi, a junior public health science major at the University of Maryland, was prepping for a 10-hour flight home from Turkey. She had been there with Artiman for about a month to visit relatives. It was the first time she had traveled back to Turkey since moving to the U.S. with her family three years ago.
While abroad over winter break, Mohammadi, an Iranian citizen, heard of President Trump's immigration ban, which bars citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days. But as a green card holder traveling with a cousin holding U.S.-Iranian dual citizenship, she said thoughts of being stopped were far from her mind.
"They said nothing about green cards on the news," Mohammadi said. "I thought I was safe."
It was not until scrolling through the news a few hours into the flight that Mohammadi realized she was wrong. With hours of flight time ahead of her and faced with the prospect of being turned away from her home, Mohammadi began to cry. Artiman asked about her tears.
"Don't worry," she replied. "It's nothing bad."
After exiting the plane, customs officials wrote big "Xs" on Mohammadi and Artiman's customs papers, indicating the need for extra security clearances. Airport security escorted the two to a crowded room, where they would sit for almost five hours.
"What would happen to me?" Mohammadi remembered asking herself. "I'm in the middle of my undergrad — I have one year left. What do I do if they don't let me into the country?"
Officials took her picture and recorded her fingerprints. She answered police questions: "Why are you here?"; "Where are your parents?"; Where do you live?" Airport officials released Mohammadi around 11 p.m., leaving Artiman by himself. It was another hour before officials released him, too.
Three days later, Mohammadi's detainment still burns in her mind.
"There were many Iranians in there," Mohammadi recalled. "The worst scenario was when [authorities] came and handcuffed one of them. I didn't know what to do at that moment. Maybe there were other people they were going to handcuff after him. That gave us so much stress."
With her future in this country seemingly in limbo, Mohammadi said the stress and uncertainty continue.
"Even in this country [immigrants] are not safe," she said. "Two days before I would have had my ticket and gotten into the country. Now that I'm sitting here, I really don't know what will happen here next year or next month."
Mohammadi is worried about negative and violent comments some Americans have made against immigrants, she said. An ABC 7 News video of her release Saturday night features onlookers saying the U.S. "shouldn't let [immigrants] return to the country, because we are paying for them."
"I don't understand why they are saying this," said Mohammadi, shaking her head. "We paid for ourselves, we live in an affluent city, a suburb of Washington, D.C. We don't need anyone to pay for us. I don't need anyone to help me. I'm here to study."
However, Mohammadi sees a silver lining.
"When I came out to the arrival hall … I saw many people were there to support us. This was the best moment," Mohammadi said, tears running down her face. "I wanted to say thanks to everyone that supported us. If they weren't there, then maybe they wouldn't let us into the country."
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was among those gathered at the airport, released a statement earlier that day expressing his "disappointment" regarding Trump's executive order. While at the airport, the governor documented the protests on his Twitter account.
Following Mohammadi and Artiman's detainment, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) also took to social media to criticize Trump's ban.
Following Mohammadi and Artiman's detainment, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) has also taken to social media to criticize Trump's ban.
With one year of schooling at this university left, Mohammadi said she fears the new executive order will endanger her education. "I was thinking about doing a study abroad, and I filled out the application, but now I can't leave the country," she said. "There is no guarantee that if [immigrants] leave the country we can come back in."
Mohammadi is not the only university student affected by the order. Sudanese doctoral student Abubakr Suliman Eltayeb Mohamed Hamid is temporally barred from returning to the U.S. after taking a trip to Sudan over winter break.
Trump's travel ban affects about 350 people in the campus community, and there are three other students who are possibly in a similar predicament as Hamid, university President Wallace Loh said in a statement to the campus community on Tuesday.
In wake of the order — which also prevents refugee admission for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely — Loh said this university will not release information regarding students' immigration status unless it's required by law.
This university will also not turn students over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless there is a court order. "To those affected by recent executive orders, we pledge full support," Loh tweeted Tuesday. "This University is your University. You belong here. We stand with you."
To those affected by recent executive orders, we pledge full support. This University is your University. You belong here. We stand with you — Wallace D. Loh (@presidentloh) January 31, 2017
Despite this support, Mohammadi said she still sees a changed America and an unforeseeable future for immigrants in the U.S.
"I always told my friends that I haven't felt that I'm not American in this country," she said. "The last three and a half years I have never felt like I was not from this country. Things have changed."