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Lawyers Plan To Be At LAX Tomorrow Ahead Of Partial Travel Ban Reinstatement [Updated]

Legal materials at LAX in January 2017. (Photo by Julia Wick/LAist)
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Update [11:00 p.m.] Due to the recent announcement that the new rules won't be implemented until 5 p.m. PST, lawyers won't be setting up at LAX until 2 p.m. on Thursday.

Amid the initial chaos of the travel ban in January, volunteer lawyers descended on Los Angeles International Airport to be of assistance as similar impromptu efforts were staged at airports across the country. Now—with a limited version of President Trump's travel ban set to be reinstated on Thursday—the same L.A. lawyers who led the efforts at the beginning of the year are planning to be at the airport again, dealing with whatever issues may arise.

Following a Supreme Court decision on the matter issued on Monday, the partially reinstated ban will affect travelers from six majority-Muslim countries: Syria, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia. The revised ban (which does not apply to people with current valid visas) allows officials to block entry for individuals from those six countries who do not have an established, "bona fide" relationship to the United States. KPCC reports that it remains "an open question whether the reinstated ban will set off chaos at Los Angeles International Airport as the first order did."

"We will be on the ground tomorrow starting at around 7 a.m. when the partial reinstatement of the ban is set to take effect," Public Counsel senior staff attorney Talia Inlender told LAist. "We plan to have a presence there throughout the day and evening to answer travelers' questions about the partial reinstatement of the ban, as well as to monitor the situation in order to determine if people are being improperly held or detained as a result of [the ban]."

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According to ACLU Southern California attorney Devon Porter, the coalition of lawyers who staffed the airport in January primarily organizes via an email listserv, which has also been used to make plans for tomorrow. The group's main coordinators have been legal nonprofits OneJustice and Public Counsel.

Porter told LAist that members of the legal coalition will be in the arrivals area at LAX on Thursday and Friday. After those first two days, they plan to reevaluate and determine whether their continued presence will be needing. The number of lawyers present will also be substantially smaller than in January: the coalition tentatively plans to work in shifts from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days, with two or three lawyers present at a time. "We're staffing on an as-needed basis, and have other folks who will be able to come if there are issues," Porter explained.

"Unfortunately, we haven't really heard anything from CBP [Customs and Border Protection] about how they're interpreting the scope of the Supreme Court ruling," Porter said. "It's kind of anybody's guess how they'll implement it, but we don't expect it to be as chaotic as it was in January because people with valid visas shouldn't be affected and folks with ties to the U.S. also shouldn't be affected."

Porter said that the ACLU believes that CBP (the agency responsible for enforcement of the partially reinstated ban at airports) has received guidance about how they'll be enforcing it, but that the agency hadn't responded to requests for information. We reached out to the LAX CBP public affairs liaison for comment but did not immediately hear back.

"Our hope is that things will go smoothly. Most people should still be permitted to enter, but because of all the chaos and confusion that dominated the airport since the first travel ban, we want to be on hand to make sure we can answer questions and monitor the situation," Inlender said.