CHICAGO (AP)—Visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries who were turned away from the United States due to President Donald Trump’s travel ban are hoping to make it through a narrow window opened by legal challenges.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco denied Trump’s effort to immediately reinstate the ban early Sunday. For now, it remains blocked by a judge’s temporary restraining order, and federal officials have told their staffs to comply.
Advocates weren’t taking any chances, telling people who could travel to get on the earliest flights they could find after the week-old ban was blocked Friday by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
“We’re telling them to get on the quickest flight ASAP,” said Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan. Her group sued in federal court in Detroit, challenging Trump’s executive order as unconstitutional.
Protesters sought to keep up the pressure, gathering in Denver and other U.S. cities to demonstrate against the ban. Meanwhile, legal advocates waited at airports in case anything went wrong with new arrivals.
Renee Paradis was among 20-25 volunteer lawyers and interpreters who stationed themselves inside John F. Kennedy’s Terminal 4 in New York in case anyone needed help. They were carrying handmade signs in Arabic and Farsi “that say we’re lawyers, we’re here to help. We’re not from the government,” Paradis said.
“We’re all just waiting to see what actually happens and who manages to get through,” she said.
The State Department has advised refugee aid agencies that refugees who had been scheduled to travel before the order was signed will now be allowed into the U.S. A State Department official said in an email obtained by The Associated Press that the government is “focusing on booking refugee travel through February 17,” with arrivals resuming as soon as Monday.