Day one of travel ban at LAX passes without reported disruptions

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President Trump's reinstated limits on travelers from six Muslim-dominant countries took effect quietly Thursday at the Los Angeles International Airport, where about a dozen protesters gathered to demonstrate against the partial travel ban.

About 10 attorneys for several legal advocacy groups set up tables over the course of the day in the Tom Bradley International Terminal arrivals area to offer help for anyone who might be snagged by the travel ban, revived in part by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

But by early evening, attorney Talia Inlender of Public Counsel said the legal group had not heard of anyone held up. She said the attorneys were optimistic the guidance given to customs officials makes clear that people with valid visas should be permitted to enter.

“They should not be subject to additional questioning or scrutiny. They’ve already been through that process and should be able to enter without a problem," she said. "So we’re here hoping things will go smoothly on the ground but we’re here to monitor in case that doesn’t happen.”

Earlier this year, when the president's original travel ban took effect, chaos ensued at LAX and airports across the country as customs officials delayed travelers for hours and sometimes days to review whether they qualified to enter the country.

Back then, thousands of demonstrators around the country protested at airports, including at LAX, where they disrupted traffic. Yesterday, it was again another story.

Only about a dozen protesters gathered to demonstrate against the latest travel ban, among them Crystal Keshawarz, 33, who came to LAX from the Inland Empire.

 “We need to make our stand clear and have solidarity among each other and bring everyone all together to drive out the Pence/Trump regime,” Keshawarz said, wearing a scarf and sunglasses over her face.

She said more protesters need to join them. “Where is the Women’s March? Why aren’t they here? Where is Indivisible?” 

Even without the large crowds, there were some tense moments. Rod Carmer, who was returning from a trip overseas, shouted “Go Trump, Go Trump” at the protesters as he walked out of the international terminal.

“He’s not banning [travelers],” he said of the president. “He’s restricting them so they can be properly vetted.” The travel restrictions “are keeping us safer,” said Carmer, a Republican who sells water treatment equipment. 

Late in the afternoon, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer met with LAX port director Mitchell Merriam and other U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials to discuss the rollout of the latest travel ban and express concerns should travelers be delayed or detained.

Feuer told reporters after the meeting that he had a good experience and is confident that things should go fairly smoothly this time — another contrast to earlier versions of the travel ban that the city attorney said at the time resulted in the "most breathtaking violations of basic rights that I have ever seen in my life, in my career as a lawyer and as a public official."

Referring to the January implementation of the travel ban at LAX as "havoc," Feuer said he returned to the airport Thursday to make sure it didn't happen again.

“Tonight, I wanted to be sure that we weren’t replicating that situation, that basic rights were being honored and respected and that there were open lines of communication and transparency," Feuer said. 

But he added he still had serious concerns about the way the federal government has interpreted the Supreme Court's order, especially when it comes to what constitutes "bona fide" familial relationships.

A traveler from the targeted countries must show an estimated tie to a person or entity in the U.S. before gaining entry to the country. In State Department guidelines given to embassies and consulates, grandparents, for example, are not regarded as close enough to serve that purpose.

The Associated Press reported that the state of Hawaii filed an emergency motion Thursday in federal court questioning the administration's exclusion of grandparents and other relatives in establishing family ties. Other challenges are expected.

Feuer said he would be "very interested in the feedback" that volunteer attorneys obtained through the evening as flights from the six countries arrive.

"It's been a quiet evening," said Arielle Morrison of One Justice, as she and the other lawyers packed up their chairs and table. "We don't think there is a need for us to stay the rest of the evening."

Morrison said a flight had already arrived from London, likely carrying people from one of the six affected countries, and no problems had surfaced.

"We were told that there shouldn't be any issues at the ports of entry and that is indeed what we're seeing," Morrison said. 

The volunteer attorneys said they would return Friday to continue monitoring the situation at the airport.

Meanwhile, protest organizers said they did not plan to return.

This story has been updated.

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