Lawyers by the score volunteer to help DFW Airport detainees

January 31, 2017

Sammantha Hall and her husband Jay hold a sign before a candlelight vigil at Thanksgiving Square in Dallas, Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. People gathered to protest against President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. and suspending the nation’s refugee program. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

DALLAS (AP) — Scores of North Texas lawyers continued to volunteer Monday to help foreign nationals detained at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport because of President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

Meanwhile, about 500 people gathered in Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas for a candlelight vigil protesting the travel ban and the detention of international travelers. The vigil was organized by North Texas religious leaders, legal professionals and advocates for refugees.

Among those speaking at the vigil was Chris Hamilton, one of the lawyers who organized the so-called war room of volunteers providing pro-bono legal services to detainees at the DFW Airport and their families.

Hamilton said the “war room” of as many as 100 lawyers had obtained the release of 12 detainees from DFW on Sunday. However, as some detainees are released, other travelers are being detained, he said.

In a Twitter post Monday evening, the group of volunteer lawyers calling themselves DFW Detained said seven detained travelers had been released throughout the day because of the work of the volunteers. However, six were still being held.

Among those released Monday was a family of three, including a 5-year-old child. They were able to leave after a detention of more than nine hours, Hamilton said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s top elected official, have been critical of the ban on travelers, including refugees, arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

“From the bottom of my heart, I apologize to those detained this weekend and their families,” Rawlings said in a Facebook post. “Not since 1939, when this country turned back a ship (of Jewish refugees) have we taken such a step back in welcoming people fleeing violence and danger,” Jenkins said at the vigil.

Meanwhile, lawyers at the “war room” in an airport-area hotel continued preparing writs of habeas corpus and other documents to free travelers caught in the ban.

Angela Hunt, a former Dallas City Council member, said she and other lawyers met Saturday morning to help travelers detained at DFW Airport. She said “it’s very, very distressing that this most fundamental of human rights under the Constitution is being denied.”

A GoFundMe.com page set up to defray the costs of the facilities being used had raised more than 75 percent of its $20,000 goal in 23 hours by late Monday evening.



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