Lawyers Work to Free Detainees at LAX


I woke up early Sunday morning, after a sleepless night, tossing and turning, thinking about Trump’s Executive Order prohibiting anyone from Iraq, Iran, Libya , Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen from entering the United States in the next three months. I drove down to LAX with my good friend Ahilan who is an immigration attorney for the ACLU of Southern California.

The airport was quiet when we arrived this morning. We set up a check-in area for legal volunteers and interpreters. We spoke with a few families who were arriving to pick up friends and relatives who were supposed to be arriving from these countries. And we began drafting legal pleadings.

I spoke with an Iranian-American family who was about to put their 70-year old father and grandfather onto a plane to visit relatives in Iran: “It’s just a short visit, surely he can get a temporary permit.” I told him “no, if it was my father, I would not put him on that plane, because he might not be able to come back.”

I was joined by Carolyn, Chris, Nasim, Mark, Meeran, and Nicole, who work with me at Advancing Justice-LA. Over 100 attorneys showed up to volunteer, and another 100 folks showed up to offer their Arabic or Farsi language skills. Proud to stand with so many great folks, including Shiu-Ming from NILC, Niels Frenzen from USC, Angelica from CHIRLA, Judy from Public Counsel, Leah, and Claire from South Pasadena.

Around 2:00 pm, protestors began arriving. Before long, thousands of protestors were everywhere – arrivals, departures, on the sidewalks and walkways, in front of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office where we were stationed, everywhere we looked or walked.

The protestors were loud – chanting “Say it loud. Say it Clear. Immigrants are welcome here.” And “CBP CBP, Show Up and Set Them Free.” The protestors were protective – making space for those taking the Muslim prayers. And the protestors were beautiful – speaking up for our Muslim brothers and sisters.

So many people brought water and coffee, fruit and granola bars, pens and pad, i-phone chargers and surge protectors. The outpouring of support for the legal volunteers was incredible. Angelenos are amazing.

I’ll be back at LAX tomorrow, fighting to get access to all the detainees. But for tonight I’m home singing my kids to sleep, cherishing the time with my husband, holding them tight, and thinking of all the families that are unable to be together tonight.

As the saying goes, “If you don’t keep kicking, you’ll drown.” If you are an immigration attorney, please come join us at LAX tomorrow. I’ll be there again.

Others can make a contribution to one of these amazing organizations fighting the good fight:

National Immigration Law Center (…)

ACLU of Southern California (…/support-aclu-southern-california)

Advancing Justice – LA (

Aman Thind is the Immigration Project Director at Advancing Justice Los Angeles

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