February 07, 2017
On January 28, Weil attorneys raced to several major U.S. airports in an immediate response to President Trump’s Friday, January 27, Executive Order initially barring refugees, immigrant and nonimmigrant visa holders, and green card holders from seven nations entry to the United States. Weil attorneys at JFK, Newark, Dulles and Logan airports filed habeas petitions for refugees and other visa holders detained incommunicado by Customs and Border Patrol.
In New York, associates Aditya Basrur, Jennifer Johnson and Jay Minga arrived at JFK midday Saturday. The team filed habeas petitions on behalf of green card holders and people with visas who were being detained through Saturday evening and into Sunday. Associates Christine Paik, Emilie Williams, Mary Lentowski and Alexa Rozell also volunteered in the effort, followed by many more attorneys who have helped maintain a Weil presence at the airport. Partner Caroline Zalka was on hand at Newark to assist family members waiting on relatives who were experiencing prolonged secondary screenings and interviews.
In Boston over the weekend, before the issuance of an order by the District of Massachusetts that enjoined secondary screenings, detentions or removals pursuant to the Executive Order, Weil attorneys were meeting with anxious family members at the terminal and working with American Lawyers Immigration Association and IRAP attorneys to locate and advocate for travelers who were detained, removed, subjected to lengthy secondary screenings, or denied boarding at their point of departure. Following the issuance of the court order after 1 am on Sunday, Weil and other volunteer attorneys at Logan worked to ensure all Customs and Border Patrol officers and airline officials were aware of the ruling. Associate Melanie Conroy organized the team of Weil attorneys including associates Katherine Meister, Dena Medford, Kirby Sabra, Emily Willey, Maureen Stringham and Evan Miller as part of a greater group of over 150 volunteer attorneys that continue to monitor international flight arrivals at Logan.
In Washington, D.C., at Dulles International Airport Christopher Abbott spearheaded Weil’s efforts with associates Angela Diveley, Denisse Velarde-Cubek and Vanshika Vij. The attorneys spoke with waiting families and arriving passengers to identify green card holders being detained without access to attorneys and candidates for habeas petitions.
Throughout the past week Weil attorneys have continued to work with affected travelers and their families who have been separated, stranded, or otherwise impacted by the Executive Order, and these efforts are ongoing.
Weil has many teams of attorneys working with students from various law schools to assist the International Refugee Assistance Program (formerly the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program) in its mission to provide comprehensive legal representation to individual refugees seeking resettlement. IRAP has successfully resettled more than 3,000 refugees facing life-and-death situations. They include Iraqis and Afghans who are at risk because of their work as interpreters with the U.S. military, as well as children with medical emergencies, women who are survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and survivors of torture.