Assisting Detainees at O’Hare Airport

In response to the Executive Order issued last week, we volunteered to provide legal assistance for detainees at O’Hare Airport.  We were some of the first attorneys to respond to the call, and there was a great deal of confusion when we arrived at the airport on Saturday January 28.  We tried to communicate with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) but they refused to give us any information. We then communicated directly with individuals who were waiting for their families, informing them that we were lawyers, so if any of their family members were detained they could reach out to us for assistance.  We are pleased to report that by the end of the day, all of the individuals being detained by CBP at O’Hare were released.

As legal advocates, we can talk to family members and obtain information on the detained travelers, such as their current immigration status. If the individual is a Refugee or Asylee, they have a right to a Credible Fear Interview (CFI) in front of an asylum officer and they have a right to legal counsel. If the individual is an immigrant visa holder or a non-immigrant visa holder, we can file an emergency Writ of Habeas Corpus in Federal Court on the detained individual’s behalf. A Writ of Habeas corpus is a legal recourse where a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment.

We were interviewed while at the airport by ABC7 News (the interview appeared on the nightly news, to read the associated website article, please visit: http://abc7chicago.com/news/13-detained-at-ohare-following-trump-order-protesters-call-for-their-release/1725960/) and the Wall Street Journal (to read the article, please visit:  http://www.wsj.com/articles/protesters-gather-at-airports-to-denounce-refugee-ban-1485658685?emailToken=JRrzcftzaHWUitM3Z8wkzlo0Y7IUBvWSA1zeMHDHIA3FqDncoPi5wL8pnJ6rpiajSEB9+tYP4islSDPMj2dnGcWYnfsmzQf5JSQN8MGZ).