SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (KPIX 5) — Immigration lawyers have been camped out at San Francisco International Airport 24/7 since Saturday, helping arriving passengers affected by President Trump’s travel ban.
They are among the more than 1,700 volunteers at SFO to help family members who may have other loved ones trapped behind Customs and Border Protection (CPB) roadblocks.
Last weekend’s protests over the travel ban have given way to a rotating group of immigration and civil rights lawyers and interpreters dealing with the fallout over the executive order.
“There’s still a lot of chaos and confusion,” said civil rights attorney Brittney Rezaei with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“CBP officers at different airports have been interpreting the orders differently, and we are here to ensure that they are complying with these orders.”
There are signs in multiple languages offering legal service, and even desks set up next to the Starbucks on the arrivals level of the International Terminal.
Rezaei said people getting off of international flights are still being detained for up to 30 hours at a time.
“It’s very concerning, because once someone is pulled into secondary screening by CBP, they have no contact with their family,” she said.
The daily rhythm of the arrivals board and incoming flights have led to a workday rhythm for the attorneys, who at times are sitting on the airport floor typing up habeus corpus petitions.
It’s not just attorneys, but people delivering meals and and interpreters volunteering their time to help scared families.
It’s how I want to spend my off time. I chose to be here,” said health care worker Meena Saleh, who speaks Farsi. Saleh kept an eye out for confused faces just outside the security zone.
The work — under the din of overhead announcements continues to march on.
“I expected it to slow down as we got some better understanding, not much from the authorities on what’s going on,” said Rezaei. “But there continue to be more questions than answers.”
The lawyers and other volunteers said they expect to remain provided support to arriving immigrants at SFO at least through the end of the week.