Immigration attorneys at LAX helping immigrants, many from Iran, detained by federal officials

At least 10 to 15 immigration attorneys have gathered at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX international terminal to help travelers, mostly from Iran, who have been detained, one of the attorneys said Saturday.

Attorneys have not yet been able to determine the number of fliers detained, as customs officials are not allowing attorneys or their families any access or communication with the detainees, said immigration attorney Jordan Cunnings.

“We’re literally walking around, asking people, are you waiting for someone who has been detained?” said Cunnings, describing a scene of worried family members who had arrived bearing flowers and welcome signs for their loved ones.

Some of the detained travelers included green-card holders, tourists, people with children and people with medical problems, Cunnings said.

One detained traveler was an Iranian woman who'd held a green card in the U.S. for five years and whose citizenship swearing-in ceremony is in two weeks, Cunnings said.

 The woman has an 11-month old child with her who is an American citizen.

“People don’t have phone access or communication access to the people waiting for them, or their attorneys,” Cunnings said. “It'’s just really heartbreaking.”

A candlelight vigil to support Muslim refugees is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Los Angeles International Airport. Meanwhile, another protest was underway in downtown Los Angeles.

The vigil comes in response to President Trump’s executive order suspending refugee arrivals and banning travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The abrupt ban ensnared people from all walks of life who were caught in transit or expecting to soon return to the U.S. — students on a break from studies, business travelers, tourists, even the bereaved who had gone home for a funeral.

The LAX candlelight vigil is being organized by the Service Employees International Union, and several politicians are expected to attend, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. The protest is planned for 5 p.m.

A group of advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a legal action against the policy on Saturday in New York, acting on behalf of two Iraqis who were stopped at John F. Kennedy International Airport hours after the order was signed. The writ seeks the release of the two Iraqis, who hold valid U.S. visas, unless the government can show lawful grounds for their detention.

The groups bringing the action, which also included the International Refugee Assistance Project and the National Immigration Law Center, said a separate motion sets the stage for a larger action involving other would-be refugees, visitors and immigrants stopped at other ports of entry.

carlos.lozano@latimes.com

dakota.smith@latimes.com

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UPDATES:

4:05 PM: This article was updated with more information about the protest.

3:40 P.M.: This article was updated with more immigration attorneys.

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