Lawyers return to O’Hare to help foreign travelers

CHICAGO -- About 20 attorneys are keeping a watchful eye over O’Hare airport from the international terminal, waiting to see if any travelers will be detained due to the president’s executive order.

So far, no one’s been detained today, but more than a dozen were detained on Saturday.

They were released after a federal judge issued an emergency ruling halting the implementation of President Trump's immigration order Saturday night. It temporarily bars the United States from deporting people with valid visas from the seven predominantly Muslim nations listed in President Trump's executive order: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The ruling covers those who have already arrived in the United State, and those in transit.

The lawsuit was filed by the ACLU on behalf of people who were detained at airports across the country after the ban took effect. The Department of Homeland Security stopped 109 foreigners at U.S. airports, and prevented another 173 people from boarding flights to the U.S.

Hundreds of people protested inside and outside the international terminal at O'Hare on Saturday, demanding their release. It was one of many protests held at international airports across the country.

Lawyers who rushed to their aid said they were all set free Saturday night, after the federal judge's ruling. But some of the attorneys returned to O'Hare Sunday morning to help foreign travelers who are still coming in.

The lawyers have various legal backgrounds, and came to volunteer their time to help those who may become detained due to the immigration ban.

“We want to make sure that those arrivals are able to get to leave the airport and get to their destinations,” said volunteer attorney Richard Goldwasser.

Many of the attorneys came to O'Hare after learning about the 18 people who had been detained by customs and boarder patrol agents, including a woman and her baby.

Goldwasser and other attorneys were at the airport until the detainees were released around 11 p.m. Saturday,
and many started returning Sunday morning around 6 a.m. as international flights came in.

“The immigration officers told us they will enforce the executive order in accordance with their commanding officer. So the message we interpreted from that is yes, we will detain people if they are under the obligation to do so,” said attorney Holly Snow.

Goldwasser said there was a "tremendous amount of confusion."

"You have people who had already left the country and were waiting to come back who weren’t aware that it was coming. You had students. Permanent residents who have established homes here for 20, 30 years,” Goldwasser said.

Snow said they have volunteers lined up through Monday night, and they hope the White House clarifies the executive action soon.