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More arrivals detained at DFW Airport, lawyers group says

Early morning scene at DFW Airport

Travelers were still being detained early Tuesday. One man in from Baghdad talks about his experience.
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Travelers were still being detained early Tuesday. One man in from Baghdad talks about his experience.

Several people who arrived at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport on Tuesday continued to be detained hours later, according to social media posts Tuesday evening by a lawyers group working at the airport.

“Our Pro Bono Team will be working through the night to help them,” DFW Detained said in a Facebook post at about 8:15 p.m.

They were among the latest international arrivals detained under President Donald Trump’s travel ban affecting seven Muslim-majority countries. An Iraqi man in a wheelchair was released early Tuesday after being detained for about 15 hours, a co-leader of DFW Detained said.

Labeeb Ibrahim Issa was among a small group of people detained Monday. The team of lawyers filed an emergency writ of habeas corpus with a federal judge in Dallas to have Issa released, which he was about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

According to the lawyers’ petition, Issa drove and did maintenance work for the U.S. Army in Iraq, and last year, he was targeted for his work with the Army and was badly injured in a car crash, breaking his pelvis.

A detainee from Iraq discusses his treatment at DFW Airport after his arrival late Monday.

Issa sought and received a special immigrant visa earlier this month because he was being continually targeted for his work with the Army, the petition said.

Trump’s executive order led to 13 travelers being detained at DFW Airport over the weekend, prompting large protests Saturday and Sunday in the international terminal. Those 13 had been released by late Sunday afternoon.

Information about how many people are being detained and their status is inconsistent and sometimes incorrect, said Christopher Hamilton, co-leader of DFW Detained,.

The airport and Customs and Border Patrol “repeatedly released incorrect information regarding the number, status and even existence of detainees,” he said. An airport spokesman referred questions to the federal agency, which did not respond to question seeking comment.

But the National Treasury Employees Union national president, Tony Reardon, released a statement saying the group is assessing the situation, adding, “We would like to ensure that CBP employees are being provided with the uniformly detailed guidance they need to perform their work. Our members are doing their best to comply with the law and carry out their jobs the best they can. Clearly, it would have been better if there had been more advanced planning. The changes took everyone by surprise.”

Hamilton said that on Monday customs officials told the lawyers nobody was being detained, but the lawyers later determined that as many as 13 people were.

The lawyers say that every time a detention is challenged, the detainees are released soon after, to avoid court review.

Hamilton also said detainees who have been released have gotten inconsistent information about what they are now required to do.

Hadi Jawad, who heads the Human Rights Committee of the Dallas Peace and Justice Center, said Tuesday that immigrant advocates are “shaken to the core by the erratic actions of the new administration. Newly minted citizens, green card holders and even those who have been citizens for decades are afraid to leave the country lest they be barred from re-entering.”

DFW Detained has started a gofundme.com page to raise money to help “defray the cost of maintaining a ‘War Room’ close to Terminal D” at the airport.

“Flights are arriving hourly, and we need your help to insure that those aboard are not unlawfully detained. We need your help to make our government accountable,” says the page, which had raised $20,997 of the $100,000 goal by noon Tuesday.

DFW Detained also said Tuesday night on Facebook that a news conference was planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday at Gate 15 in Terminal D.

“This is not a protest tomorrow,” the post said. “No signs or chants. This is a quiet showing of our unity to let America know we will stand vigilant together.”

Meanwhile, more than half of the refugees who’d planned to settle in Texas in the next month are out of luck, KERA reported. Refugee Services of Texas says 57 of 112 planned resettlements have been canceled after Trump’s order to suspend the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program.

In Dallas, the International Rescue Committee had been working on resettling 20 refugees this week in Dallas. But since the executive order, the trips of 11 of those refugees — who are from the countries under the travel ban —have been canceled, the station reported.

“Two of the families where the principal applicants of the families — the husbands and fathers — had worked as translators and interpreters for the U.S. military during Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Daley Ryan, the rescue committee’s deputy director, told KERA.

Ryan said all of the refugees had been vetted and cleared to come to the U.S., and they were supposed to reunite with family in Dallas.

“This is really depriving those innocent families who have already gone through the process,” Ryan said. “They’re the most security-vetted group to enter the United Sates, and slamming America’s door to them puts innocent lives at risk and it does absolutely nothing to make us any safer.”

Staff writer Diane Smith contributed to this report.

Most, including one man in a wheelchair, were released early Tuesday.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST

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