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D.C. Lawyers Help Muslims Arriving at Dulles Airport

Updated on February 11, 2017

Muslims Greeted by Friends in Washington's Legal Community

Dozens of attorneys who tried to turn Dulles International Airport into a legal aid hub for immigrants last week have at least temporarily abandoned their posts after federal courts lifted President Trump’s ban on visitors from seven Muslim countries.

The attorneys held up signs for arriving airline passengers from the Middle East offering free legal advice.

They were responding to Trump’s executive order banning entry into the United States for persons from Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Somalia.

Less than a week after Trump issued the executive order, a federal judge in Washington overturned it, saying it was unconstitutional.

The Trump administration immediately appealed for a stay to prevent the judge’s order from taking effect.

The appeal said Judge James Robart’s order second-guesses the president’s national security judgment about the quantum of risk posed by the admission of certain classes of (non-citizens) and the best means of minimizing that risk.

A U.S. Court of Appeals refused to overturn the judge’s order, thereby allowing Middle Eastern visitors to enter the United States at Dulles Airport and elsewhere under the same conditions as people from any other countries.

The lawyers worked pro bono while they interviewed Muslim visitors on the floor under an airport escalator and plugged their laptops into wall sockets.

They offered their assistance to families that risked being separated by Trump’s travel ban as Customs and Border Protection agents detained visitors from the banned countries.

Michael Lukens, pro bono director of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, circulated an email to the Washington-area’s legal community asking for their assistance after interview some of the arriving Muslims.

Initially, Customs and Border Patrol officials refused to provide information to lawyers about the detained travelers.

After the judge lifted Trump’s executive order, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring showed up at Dulles Airport to welcome Muslim visitors.

For more information, contact The Legal Forum ( at email: or phone: 202-479-7240.


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