Lawyers head to Canadian airports, U.S. legal battle continues //
A network of Canadian lawyers is volunteering at airports across the country to help people who could be affected by a U.S. travel ban navigate the shifting landscape.
A federal judge in Seattle froze the ban, which affects people from seven Muslimmajority countries, on Friday. The initial executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 27 barred all travellers originally from the targeted countries, including visa and green card holders. And while the “temporary restraining order” issued by Judge James L. Robart Friday has temporarily lessened the lawyers’ workload, Corey Shefman of Toronto said the hundreds of lawyers who have signed up to volunteer are waiting at the ready for further developments.
“One of the most serious concerns over the last week is that nobody really knows what the heck is going on. Is this court order enforced?’ Is that court order enforced? Are none of the court orders enforced?” he said.
“So travellers who are from the affected countries — and some of them who honestly aren’t from the affected countries — are looking for answers. So one of the roles that our lawyer volunteers play is to help provide those answers.”
They stand by the U.S. departures, holding signs offering free legal help, he said. And they’re being kept up-to-date “minute by minute” so they always have the latest legal information.
“The other service we’re providing is to make it clear to people at the airport that there is help,” he said. “I think we’ve also helped to create a safe space at the airport for travellers.”
Shefman said the Canadian lawyers started volunteering in response to a call from the International Refugee Assistance Project in New York.
“We’ve been wonderfully overwhelmed with the outpouring of support,” said Elizabeth Foydel, policy counsel for IRAP. She said Canadian lawyers have been a great help to her organization.
Shefman said they’re still looking for more volunteers, as the legality surrounding the ban is constantly in motion and they could need more help in the coming weeks. Early Sunday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the American Justice Department’s request for an immediate reinstatement of the ban. The court asked challengers of the ban respond to the appeal, and for the Justice Department to file a counter-response by Monday afternoon.