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Public Counsel Condemns Trump Muslim Ban 2.0, Fights to Protect Affected Individuals

March 6, 2017

Local Public Interest Law Firm Has Created a Travelers’ Hotline, is Monitoring Conditions at LAX

Los Angeles – Public Counsel is fighting back against President Trump’s revised Executive Order restricting travel from six majority-Muslim countries, which separates families and puts the lives of refugees and other vulnerable immigrants at risk. The pro bono law firm has mobilized its resources to assist impacted travelers and their families at LAX by creating a telephone hotline, monitoring conditions at the airport, and assembling an on-call team of lawyers.

“The new executive order is antithetical to American values and the values of Public Counsel,” said Margaret Morrow, president and CEO of Public Counsel. “Just as with the first Muslim Ban, this revised order unfairly singles out immigrants from majority-Muslim countries for no reason other than their national origin. Because of this ban, suffering refugees will be denied refuge, immigrants facing persecution won’t find safety, and families will be broken apart. We are marshaling our resources to support our clients and resist this reckless initiative.”

A travelers' hotline is available if LAX travelers experience any disruption related to the new executive order. Anyone concerned about a traveler currently being denied entry at LAX can reach the hotline at 213-201-4780 or lax@publiccounsel.org Public Counsel attorneys will also monitor conditions at the airport immediately following the issuance of the executive order as well as after March 16, when the ban takes effect.

Public Counsel helped lead the efforts at LAX to monitor and support travelers in the days following President Trump’s initial travel ban, which was later enjoined by a federal court. During that period, Public Counsel attorneys advocated on behalf of dozens of distraught families at LAX, and that legwork helped lead to the high-profile returns of a number of travelers who had been banned from entering the U.S. Public Counsel worked with the family of Ali Vayeghan, an Iranian citizen with a valid U.S. visa, who was detained and then sent back to Iran after landing at LAX. After a court challenge, Mr. Vayeghan made a historic touchdown days later at LAX as the first person to enter the U.S. after previously being ejected from the country because of the Executive Order.

“Public Counsel was on the ground responding to the chaos and confusion unleashed by President Trump’s first Muslim ban,” said Judy London, director of Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “In order to identify and support the family members separated from their loved ones by that that callous and deeply irresponsible order, our staff was literally walking around the airport with signs that said ‘I’m an immigration attorney.’”

Public Counsel, with co-counsel Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, also represents an Afghan family of five—including an eight-month old child—who were detained and held incommunicado without access to counsel at LAX last week for over 30 hours, despite holding valid Special Immigrant Visas. On Saturday, the attorneys secured a temporary restraining order preventing the family from being transferred out of the Los Angeles area or denied access to lawyers. The family is to be released from detention today.

“This ban is the latest in a long line of threats by the Trump administration to the immigrants and immigrant communities who make this country great,” said Kathryn Eidmann, staff attorney of Public Counsel’s Opportunity Under Law. “We stand with the families who have been torn apart, the stranded refugees, and the individuals who are being persecuted in their own countries because of their work to make our country safer. We are working around the clock to hold this administration accountable and to honor the promises of our constitution and nation of laws.” 

“Public Counsel has been on the front lines protecting the rights of immigrants and refugees for over 40 years, and this work is central to our mission.” said President and CEO Margaret Morrow. “Any version of an immigration ban that targets families based on their nationality is unacceptable and runs contrary to the values of this country and our organization. We are determined to do everything in our power to ensure justice prevails.”