Website connects travelers affected by travel ban with volunteer lawyers | Inquirer Lifestyle

Website connects travelers affected by travel ban with volunteer lawyers

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Volunteer Alex Phillips Hatter (L), a recent graduate from University of Idaho College of Law for Airportlawyer.com. Image: Jason Redmond/AFP

Travelers who may be affected by the revised United States travel ban can seek free help from a group of volunteer lawyers who have launched an online portal to help protect immigrants and refugees.

Called Airport Lawyer, the group is made up of thousands of volunteer lawyers who are on standby at 17 airports across the U.S. and Canada, ready to help travelers who may need help navigating the legal waters of U.S. customs and immigration, and understanding their rights.

“This project is a labor of love by a team of individuals and organizations concerned about the treatment of vulnerable immigrants and refugees,” reads an excerpt from the website.

“We saw an opportunity to ensure that the vast volunteer resources being contributed to the immigration crisis are deployed efficiently and effectively. We connect families in need of assistance with lawyers who can help.

To use, travelers send their flight information such as arrival date, time and destination airport, through a secure website. Friends and family of travelers affected can also use the site.

The information is received by lawyers at the local airport, who will make themselves available to answer questions, help with documentation and find interpreters.

Mobilizing for round two of travel ban

Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump released details of the second version of his controversial travel ban, which imposes sweeping restrictions on travelers from six countries and refugees.

When Trump rolled out the first edition of the ban in January, immigration lawyers mobilized at airports waving signs that read “free lawyer,” approaching random passengers and asking if they needed help – a strategy that was disorganized and haphazard.

To make their goodwill more effective and organized, a group of Seattle lawyers created Airport Lawyer with a legal software company who designed the site.

For round two of the travel ban, lawyers are mobilized and ready to connect with affected travelers.

The service is also available in Arabic and Farsi, with Somali in development. Likewise, the group is working on making lawyers available at departure airports, where travelers are reporting problems of denied boarding. JB