Ex­perts on im­mi­grant rights of­fer free aid as Trump plan kicks in.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Alene Tchekm­e­dyian and Sarah Parvini

at LAX. Civil rights at­tor­neys re­turned to the air­port to help trav­el­ers as im­mi­grant ad­vo­cates warned of new chaos.

Hanadi Al­haj ar­rived at Los An­ge­les In­ter­na­tional Air­port an hour be­fore her mother’s flight was sched­uled to land from Jor­dan to make sure noth­ing went wrong.

Although her mother holds a green card, Al­haj feared she’d be held in cus­toms be­cause she car­ries a pass­port from Ye­men, one of the six coun­tries in­cluded in the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s travel ban, which took ef­fect Thursday af­ter­noon.

“My mom doesn’t speak English…. I tried to come early if they need some­body to trans­late to her,” said Al­haj, a Ye­meni im­mi­grant. “I get wor­ried maybe some­thing will hap­pen — they will stop her, they will go dou­blecheck her.”

As Al­haj waited, a small group of im­mi­grant-rights at­tor­neys sta­tioned them­selves at LAX to pre­pare for the start of a new ver­sion of the travel ban.

‘We know what this is about. This is about ex­clud­ing Mus­lims as much as pos­si­ble.’ — Ameena Mirza Qazi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Lawyers Guild’s Los An­ge­les chap­ter

At­tor­neys ar­rived around 2 p.m. — three hours be­fore the ban took ef­fect — and set up ta­bles where they of­fered free le­gal aid and dis­trib­uted copies of an eight­page travel ad­vi­sory with in­for­ma­tion about the sta­tus of the new ban, as well as ad­vice for trav­el­ers on in­ter­act­ing with cus­toms of­fi­cers.

The lawyers said they plan to as­sess any im­pact on trav­el­ers who are seek­ing en­try into the United States through Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion at LAX.

They were joined by a hand­ful of ac­tivists hold­ing signs that read, “No! Stop Trump/Pence” out­side the Tom Bradley In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal.

Al­haj, who im­mi­grated to the U.S. 15 years ago, brought copies of her mother’s im­mi­gra­tion pa­per­work to the air­port just in case.

“She’s from one of the six coun­tries,” Al­haj said. “Maybe it’s go­ing to be an is­sue.”

Ameena Mirza Qazi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Los An­ge­les chap­ter of the Na­tional Lawyers Guild, said peo­ple are still “very con­cerned” about the travel ban, even in the re­stricted form al­lowed ear­lier this week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“There’s still a lot of con­fu­sion about how this af­fects peo­ple, how this af­fects fam­ily mem­bers,” Qazi said. “The [visa] process is al­ready so thor­ough and it’s been that way for a very long time. To say some­one can’t come in be­cause they’re from a cer­tain coun­try … we know what this is about. This is about ex­clud­ing Mus­lims as much as pos­si­ble.”

Qazi said at­tor­neys from the Na­tional Lawyers Guild and other or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing the Coun­cil on Amer­i­can-Is­lamic Re­la­tions and the ACLU, will mon­i­tor the way cus­toms of­fi­cials treat trav­el­ers.

Around 6 p.m., Qazi said she hadn’t no­ticed any sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on trav­el­ers. Still, she said, at­tor­neys are mon­i­tor­ing flights from places such as France and Ger­many, where trav­el­ers who started from the Mid­dle East catch con­nect­ing flights to the U.S., as well as flights from the United Arab Emi­rates.

“To­day is a lot more wait­ing and see­ing. In Jan­uary, we ac­tively knew of peo­ple be­ing de­tained,” she said.

Ex­tra po­lice of­fi­cers were not called in Thursday, but a “very large con­tin­gency” of of­fi­cers is al­ways on call to re­spond to ma­jor in­ci­dents, the Los An­ge­les Air­port Po­lice Depart­ment said. U.S. Cus­toms and Border Pro­tec­tion of­fi­cials said of­fi­cers ex­pected “busi­ness as usual.”

Af­ter the ban stalled for sev­eral months in fed­eral courts, the U.S. Supreme Court on Mon­day al­lowed much of the ban to take ef­fect while also ap­ply­ing sig­nif­i­cant re­stric­tions that nar­row the or­der’s im­pact.

With ex­cep­tions for peo­ple with a “bona fide re­la­tion­ship” to schools, em­ploy­ers, fam­ily or other U.S. en­ti­ties, the ban will block ad­mis­sion of peo­ple from six ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­tries for 90 days as the gov­ern­ment eval­u­ates its vet­ting pro­ce­dures.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has said that it needs the travel pause while it re­views and re­vises its vet­ting pro­ce­dures for peo­ple ar­riv­ing from Iran, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria, Libya and Ye­men. Trump has ar­gued that the coun­tries have ties to ter­ror­ism and that the ban will bet­ter pro­tect the coun­try against ter­ror at­tacks.

In re­sponse to the Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion cre­ated re­la­tion­ship guide­lines, which ex­plain who is ex­empted from the ban.

The guide­lines, which were sent to em­bassies and con­sulates around the globe, do not count grand­par­ents, grand­chil­dren, aunts, un­cles, nieces, neph­ews, cousins, brothers-in­law and sis­ters-in-law or other ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers as “close” re­la­tions whose pres­ence in the U.S. would al­low peo­ple blocked by the travel ban to still en­ter the coun­try.

Visas that have al­ready been ap­proved will not be re­voked.

Just be­fore 4:30 p.m., Los An­ge­les City Atty. Mike Feuer stopped by the makeshift le­gal clinic at the air­port on his way to a meet­ing with LAX Port Di­rec­tor Mitch Mer­riam.

“I have very strong con­cerns about the def­i­ni­tion the State Depart­ment has given for ‘bona fide’ re­la­tion­ships here,” he said. “I want to learn more about the ways the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is eval­u­at­ing who gets in.”

Feuer said he was trou­bled that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion in Jan­uary also sought 90 days — which have since ex­pired — to as­sess the ef­fi­cacy of its vet­ting pro­ce­dures.

“We’re well past that,” he said. “I don’t get it.”

Shayan Mo­dar­res, le­gal coun­sel for the Na­tional Ira­nian Amer­i­can Coun­cil, said the ban rep­re­sented a “new low” by “tar­get­ing grand­par­ents of Amer­i­can chil­dren.”

“It’s a lot of heart­break, a lot of sad­ness and con­fu­sion,” he said. “To say that some­body’s grand­par­ents present a na­tional se­cu­rity threat or a risk to the U.S. un­der­scores how ab­surd this Mus­lim ban re­ally is.”

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

Mar­cus Yam Los An­ge­les Times

L.A. CITY ATTY. Mike Feuer, speak­ing Thursday at LAX, voiced con­cerns about the re­vised travel ban.

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