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updated: 3/16/2017 5:57 PM

O'Hare volunteer lawyers staying put despite judicial suspension of travel ban

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  • Volunteer lawyers remain at O'Hare International Airport to offer legal aid to fliers affected by travel restrictions issued by President Donald Trump but blocked by the courts.

      Volunteer lawyers remain at O'Hare International Airport to offer legal aid to fliers affected by travel restrictions issued by President Donald Trump but blocked by the courts.
    Marni Pyke | Staff Photographer

 
 

Volunteer lawyers say they'll stay encamped at O'Hare International Airport to give legal aid to people having problems entering the U.S. even as court rulings prevented new travel restrictions from taking effect on Thursday.

Attorney John Francis, who was at O'Hare's International Terminal on Thursday, said he supports two federal judges' reasoning that President Donald Trump's travel restriction violates constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

Trump said he is preventing terrorism by seeking to suspend the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and restrict entry for citizens of six majority-Muslim countries so his administration can evaluate screening procedures.

"We're a country that celebrates religious diversity, and this opinion is in the best tradition of the American justice system," Francis said.

Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland temporarily blocked enforcement of the order.

At a rally in Nashville on Wednesday, Trump called the rulings "unprecedented judicial overreach."

Trump added, "we're talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people."

The earlier executive order suspended refugee admissions and restricted the entry of people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen into the U.S. It created confusion and protests at airports as people were detained for questioning by U.S. Customs and Border Protection or sent back. Volunteer lawyers flocked to O'Hare to offer help and a rotating contingent has stayed every since.

Trump withdrew the initial order after a successful court challenges. The second version removes Iraq from the list of targeted countries.

Members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago Office met with reporters at O'Hare on Thursday.

"We will definitely challenge this no matter where it takes us," communications coordinator Hoda Katebi said. CAIR offers a travel assistance program at tapus.org.

Trump has denied the order targets Muslims and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly stated it addresses "long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system."

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