Legal advocates in Southern California anticipate the Trump administration will issue a new travel ban limiting entry from seven Muslim majority countries as early as Wednesday, and they are preparing for what might ensue at Los Angeles International Airport.
While they say they hope the rollout will be smoother than in January when President Trump first temporarily banned travel and refugees from select countries citing national security, they’re taking precautions.
“We anticipate that if it looks like travelers are being stopped again and detained, that we will set up a similar type of command center at LAX again at the arrivals terminal so that people can get help if they need it," said Talia Inlender, a senior staff attorney with Public Counsel, a legal advocacy group in Los Angeles.
Hundreds of travelers, including green card holders, were stopped at airports around the country during the last weekend of January. The travel order created chaos at airports around the country. Some green card holders with permanent residency status were held up, along with those holding student and business visas. Some at LAX were detained as long as 12 hours.
Protests against the travel ban erupted nationwide, with traffic at several airports disrupted by the demonstrations, including at LAX.
After legal challenges, the original travel ban remains held up in court.
The White House is expected to announce a drastically scaled-back version of the travel order as early as tomorrow. But in case things don’t go smoothly, volunteer attorneys are getting ready to head to LAX – just as they did the last time.
Inlender said the plan will be to set up at the arrivals terminal in the Tom Bradley International Airport, where friends and family sought legal help when their relatives and acquaintances were delayed by customs and border officials earlier this year.
An impromptu legal-help area with tables was set up outside a Pinkberry yogurt stand at the airport last time.
Inlender said a hotline is also in the works.
Even if things go smoothly at the airport, the revised travel ban may still affect those who don't yet have visas, including refugees.
Anaheim immigration attorney Akram Abusharar said he represents local families with roots in countries like Syria and Iraq, both affected by the travel ban. He said Tuesday afternoon that he expects the revised order will still have a big impact on such travelers.
"If somebody is here and wants to petition their family members, they will not be able to do that," he said. "There will be a separation of families."