February 28, 2017; Albuquerque Journal
President Trump’s new executive order on immigration could come as soon as today, and civil rights lawyers all over the country are making preparations for what’s to come. A draft of the order that has been drifting around D.C. (along with many other drafts of many other orders) indicates that it targets people from the same seven predominantly Muslim countries identified in the prior executive order using an Obama-era determination. But analysts at the Homeland Security Department’s intelligence arm found insufficient evidence that travelers from those areas pose any particular terror threat to the United States.
One section of the international arrivals area at Dulles International Airport has been fitted up as a virtual law firm, with legal volunteers at the ready to greet affected travelers. There, as with a number of other airports, legal volunteers have been on duty shifts to provide service to those who need it.
Though Trump has suggested that this second order will have eliminated any of the issues that would make it unconstitutional, attorneys stand ready to challenge the order regardless.
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“It’s not enough to just tweak an order and not change the nature of why it was issued in the first place,” said Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan. ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt from New York has declared that for that organization, “The primary focus is being able to respond immediately to any request by the government to lift any of the injunctions, before the courts have had a chance to examine the new order.”
The CEO of the nonprofit OneJustice says it is prepared to alert and deploy up to 3,000 volunteers in California if necessary. At 17 other airports, including Miami, Atlanta, and San Diego, travelers will be directed to Airport Lawyer, “a secure website and free mobile app that alerts volunteer lawyers to ensure travelers make it through customs without trouble.”
One volunteer at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Asti Gallina, felt strongly about the role she was about to play. “An essential part of the American narrative is the ability to come to America. Any infringement of that is something that needs to be resisted.”—Ruth McCambridge