Donald Trump

Weekend chaos at LAX over Trump bans

lax-protest-herbst.jpgLos Angeles Magazine posted photos from the LAX protests by Julia Herbst.

President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily but immediately banning refugees, travelers from seven Muslim nations and even legal U.S. residents and visa holders from entering the country caught Homeland Security officials by surprise and led to chaos at airports. At Los Angeles International, numerous arriving passengers were detained by confused border officials and the airport was descended upon by lawyers, protesters and elected officials including Mayor Eric Garcetti.

By the end of the weekend, federal judges across the country had issued stays of the order and Homeland Security announced that green card holders would be allowed back in to the U.S. One Iranian man deported from LAX was ordered to be admitted by a federal judge, but the order came down after he was already put on a plane to Dubai. Amid widespread questions about whether the executive orders from Trump are constitutional, and whether they do anything to help U.S. security, the ACLU reported receiving a record number of online donations during the weekend.

Trump tweeted that the surprise nature of his bans was purposeful — giving notice for the bans would have allowed "bad dudes to rush into our country." He also denied that the actions were a Muslim ban or about religion, but chose to tweet this on Sunday:

There were remarkable scenes at airports across the country, with crowds of protesters turning out to support the innocent victims of the Trump disarray. In some cases, reporters interviewed military veterans who turned out to protest. At many airports, volunteer lawyers poured in to help and recorded some victories.

The New York Times lede:

Travelers were stranded around the world, protests escalated in the United States and anxiety rose within President Trump’s party on Sunday as his order closing the nation to refugees and people from certain predominantly Muslim countries provoked a crisis just days into his administration.

The White House pulled back on part of Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on visitors from seven countries by saying that it would not apply to those with green cards granting them permanent residence in the United States. By the end of the day, the Department of Homeland Security formally issued an order declaring legal residents exempt from the order.

But the recalibration did little to reassure critics at home or abroad who saw the president’s order as a retreat from traditional American values. European leaders denounced the order, and some Republican lawmakers called on Mr. Trump to back down. As of Sunday evening, officials said no one was being held at American airports, although lawyers said they believed that dozens were still being detained.

At LAX, several thousand protesters added to the chaos, closing parts of the loop road past the terminals. Police negotiated with the protesters to limit the amount of time that traffic was blocked. At various times, the protests disrupted traffic on the lower and upper road. Most of the attention was focused on the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

City Attorney Mike Feuer said he was refused access to arriving passengers who were detained by federal officials at the airport. He said he went to see that the stay was being enforced. "It is time not only for officials in my position, but all Americans, should find this a breathtaking violation of rights,” Feuer said of the bans ordered by Trump.

From the latest LA Times story:

Jennie Pasquarella, director of immigrant rights for the ACLU of California, said her group had filed habeas petitions on behalf of seven people who were detained at LAX on Saturday. All seven were later released, and of those, two elderly women were held for longer than 24 hours, she said.

On Sunday, the ACLU also requested that a federal judge order that all detainees receive access to lawyers as well as phones. A judge could hear the petition on Monday or Tuesday.

Reliable statistics on the number of people detained at LAX were difficult to access. One detainee told the ACLU that at least 100 people were being held on Saturday. Late Sunday, immigration attorneys working at LAX estimated that about 20 people were being detained at any given time. A law enforcement source told The Times that 13 people had been detained at Terminal 2 on Saturday night, but each of them held a green card and was eventually released. The source could not provide detention figures for the Tom Bradley International Terminal, the airport’s locus of international travel.

Pasquarella also said federal immigration officials have been urging some detainees to waive their applications for admission to the U.S., an allegation echoed by ACLU officials in other cities. It was not clear what detainees were faced with, but Pasquarella suggested that officials could threaten to deport detained individuals, which could have a long-term effect on their ability to reenter the U.S. at a later date.

Attorneys were also having difficulty accessing those being held. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency did not respond to requests for comment.

The man who was deported, Ali Vayeghan, arrived from Tehran on Friday night with a visa. He was enroute to join his wife and son in Indiana. After he was deported back to Iran via Dubai, "a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered authorities to transport Vayeghan back to the U.S. and admit him under the terms of his visa, which is set to expire Feb. 14," the Times story said. The Iranian ex-pat community in Los Angeles was following the news closely.

Garcetti on Trump's order and LAX protests:

Los Angeles will always be a place of refuge, where the most vulnerable people fleeing war, or religious or political oppression, can find a safe and welcoming home. Congress outlawed the banning of immigrants by nationality more than 50 years ago, because we have long known that it does not make us safer. It only fans the flames of hatred that those who wish us harm seek to spread.

I am closely monitoring the situation at LAX and staying in close touch with locally based officials in the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and other partner agencies.

I understand that some Angelenos are planning to express their support for immigrants by demonstrating at the airport. There is power in standing strong for our values — but we must remain calm, and act lawfully and peacefully so LAX can continue to operate smoothly and our passengers stay safe

New Senator Kamala Harris:

Make no mistake - this is a Muslim ban. Broad brush discrimination against refugees and immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, most of whom are women and children, runs counter to our national security interests, and will likely be used as a terrorist recruitment tool. Opening our doors to those fleeing war and oppression has been the policy of presidents of both parties for decades. This moral leadership enhances our ability to shape world events, promotes global stability, and makes us stronger at home. Whether it’s a small business owner in Sacramento employing fellow Californians or a student in Los Angeles completing cutting edge research, refugees are contributing to our country and our economy. They enrich our communities; they do not make us less safe.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra
called Trump's action “in so many ways unjust and anti-American” and joined with 16 Democratic state AGs to label the orders unconstitutional.

It discriminates against human beings based on their faith. It denies entry to those with proven and legitimate fears of death and persecution. It tramples on centuries of American tradition.

Backlash came came from sources as varied as Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham and the president of the Charles Koch Foundation, who sharply criticized Trump's refugee and Muslim ban as counter-productivel. An opinion piece in the New Yorker noted that the order "was reviewed by virtually no one. He is a dangerously isolated president."

Eliot A. Cohen, the Republican former advisor to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and a Trump critic, says a big decision time is coming for fellow conservatives who will have to choose how much Trump damage to American standing and security interests to abide.

In an epic week beginning with a dark and divisive inaugural speech, extraordinary attacks on a free press, a visit to the CIA that dishonored a monument to anonymous heroes who paid the ultimate price, and now an attempt to ban selected groups of Muslims (including interpreters who served with our forces in Iraq and those with green cards, though not those from countries with Trump hotels, or from really indispensable states like Saudi Arabia), he has lived down to expectations.

Precisely because the problem is one of temperament and character, it will not get better. It will get worse, as power intoxicates Trump and those around him. It will probably end in calamity—substantial domestic protest and violence, a breakdown of international economic relationships, the collapse of major alliances, or perhaps one or more new wars (even with China) on top of the ones we already have. It will not be surprising in the slightest if his term ends not in four or in eight years, but sooner, with impeachment or removal under the 25th Amendment. The sooner Americans get used to these likelihoods, the better....

He will do much more damage before he departs the scene, to become a subject of horrified wonder in our grandchildren’s history books.

Actual security experts were aghast that Trump has also excluded the chairman of the joint chiefs and the director of national intelligence from key meetings of the National Security Council — and elevated political strategist-agitators Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller to the meetings. "The last place you want to put somebody who worries about politics is in a room where they’re talking about national security,” said Leon E. Panetta, the former White House chief of staff, defense secretary and CIA director. “I’ve never seen that happen, and it shouldn’t happen."

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