DULLES, Virginia ― U.S. officials at Dulles International Airport continued Sunday to defy a court order temporarily halting parts of President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, despite complaints from lawmakers and lawyers.
On Saturday, Judge Leonie Brinkema of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered customs and border protection officials to allow any detained legal permanent residents of the U.S. ― commonly known as green card holders ― to gain access to attorneys. But lawyers said that customs officials essentially ignored the order throughout the day on Sunday, warning that the officials were potentially in contempt of court.
On Sunday morning, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J) protested at the airport, and four Democrats in the House attempted to enforce the court ruling Sunday afternoon. On Sunday night, Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) became the sixth member of Congress to challenge authorities at the airport, which serves the Washington, D.C., area.
Scott asked Dulles authorities whether any individuals affected by Trump’s executive order were still in detention by that point, or if any had been transferred from Dulles to a detention facility outside the jurisdiction of Brinkema’s court. Earlier in the day, attorneys and activists had suggested that customs officials had transferred detainees so they would not have to follow the ruling.
“They won’t come out and answer questions,” Scott told The Huffington Post.
Instead, airport security officials gave the congressman contact information for a congressional affairs liaison at the Department of Homeland Security. That agency said Sunday that Trump’s ban on entry would not apply to people with green cards ― which would make Brinkema’s ruling moot.
Still, attorneys worried that green card holders were being denied due process for hours before being released, if not officially “detained.” Without the court-ordered access to travelers upon their arrival at the airport, attorneys cannot prevent detention and possible rights violations.
“We would love to have access and have customs and border protection talk to us throughout the day,” said Mirriam Seddiq, a Maryland-based lawyer who was at the airport. “We don’t know many people were removed or how many people were brought in.”
Steven Schulman, a pro bono attorney at the firm Akin Gump, told HuffPost it appeared there were no more detainees being held at Dulles Sunday night. The customs agency was apparently no longer in violation of the court order, he continued, although perhaps “just for lack of opportunity” as the pace of flights had slowed down. It appeared that the last individual detained was Radwan Ziadeh, a celebrated Syrian academic who has long held a special protected status in the U.S. But more flights are due to arrive in the coming days.
There were no signs Sunday night that Dulles had sent detainees to the closest family detention center in Berks County, Pennsylvania, said Jackie Kline, an attorney familiar with the situation there.
Scott warned that he and others would continue to raise the issue of noncompliance by the airport’s border agents.
Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are expected to appear at the airport Monday afternoon as activism and legal aid work continues.