On Sunday morning, I drove to the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX. I had barely slept since President Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country. As an immigration attorney, I had to do something.
The airport was chaotic when I arrived. Protesters were everywhere, marching and chanting around the terminal. As travelers tried to get through the crowds, inside the terminal, families were huddled together, worried and fearful. I found other immigration lawyers and we scrambled to set up a check-in area for legal volunteers and interpreters
in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office. Other Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) staff arrived, eager to do something in response to the terrible Executive Order
. Everyone had questions and I spoke to dozens of people, including an Iranian American family preparing to put their 70-year old grandfather onto a plane to visit relatives back home. “If he were my father,” I told them, “I would wait and not let him get on that plane because he might not be able to come back.”
Some of our office's attorneys on call (L,R): myself, Laboni Hoq, Meeran Mahmud, and Christopher Lapinig.
Although a federal judge issued a nationwide stop to the deportations on Saturday night, we found on Sunday morning that U.S. Customs and Border Protection was defying the court order. CBP at LAX was continuing to unlawfully detain individuals arriving from abroad and denying them access to legal counsel in an attempt to forcibly prevent them from entering the United States. I was outraged to see that I and other lawyers were being denied direct access to detained clients in need of legal counsel.
On Sunday, Advancing Justice-LA joined a lawsuit filed by the ACLU
on behalf of legal aid organizations trying to help immigrants who are being detained by CBP, demanding that detainees have access to lawyers as well as an opportunity to speak to and see family members. Without cooperation from the CBP, we fear many immigrants are being illegally detained and deported.
We can’t do this without you.
Advancing Justice-LA’s Immigration team and I will continue to be on the front lines of protecting immigrants and resisting President Trump’s backdoor Muslim ban. My team will be back at LAX for as long as we are needed, fighting to get access to all the detainees and supporting the families waiting for them.
In solidarity and gratitude,
Aman Thind, Immigration Project Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles