Joining immigrant protectors at airports around the country, Los Angeles protesters began mobilizing Saturday night in front of the Tom Bradley International Airport and resumed Sunday, with thousands of protectors, young and old, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, rallying outside the terminal and then conducting a sit-in in front of the Customs’ office. Customs’ supervisors and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers were nowhere in sight, their door closed, mysteriously absent, on the ground level, behind locked doors, while reports circulated of officers not obeying a federal court order temporarily staying the ban on immigrants from Muslim countries.
West Los Angeles Congress members Ted Lieu and Maxine Waters, and LA City Council member Mike Bonin came to LAX to support the protectors in their demand DHS release detainees from the “Muslim ban” countries. Courts in New York, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts and California validated challenges to Trump’s Executive order, staying or restraining the ban on immigrants from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. Immigrant protectors chanted, “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here” and “All the walls have got to go, from Palestine to Mexico.”
The Los Angeles Times reports that late Sunday night some arrests were made after immigrant protectors blocked the roadway in front of the international terminal. For most of the weekend, however, Los Angeles Police Department officers took a hands-off approach, standing back, some smiling and nodding, as demonstrators rallied in front of the terminal, navigated up and down escalators, and interacted with passengers at the luggage carousels inside.
The Los Angeles Times quotes Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrant rights for the ACLU in California, as saying, “her advocacy group had filed habeas petitions on behalf of seven people who were detained at LAX on Saturday. Those seven were later released.”
According to the newspaper, “The ACLU filed an amended petition on Sunday asking a federal judge to order that all detainees obtain access to lawyers as well as phones.” A judge may hear the petition early this week.
The newspaper also reports that a “federal judge issued an order instructing federal officials to transport an Iranian man back to the U.S. after he was deported from LAX the day before. The judge cited the “irreparable harm” the man could face as well as the likelihood that his deportation violated the Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act.”
Ad hoc attorneys, some practicing business or copyright law, showed up to volunteer with immigration attorneys who set up tables inside and outside the airport to counsel immigrants and their families not to sign anything without consulting a lawyer first. At around 5 pm on Sunday, a woman who identified herself as a dual US citizen from Iran, told this blogger that approximately 55 people were detained for an hour without water after her flight from Turkey landed at LAX. She told this blogger DHS and Customs officials asked a lot of questions —”Where have you traveled to? How long? Who did you talk to?” — before releasing those detained.
This post was also published at Huffpo.