Recap: It was a long week for immigrants in Seattle | KUOW News and Information

Recap: It was a long week for immigrants in Seattle

Feb 3, 2017

It ended almost as dramatically as it began.

After working “literally around the clock” all week, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his team went to court against President Donald Trump Friday – and they won, securing a temporary halt to the President’s immigration ban.

Cheers erupted at Abu-Bakr Islamic Center, where Sen. Maria Cantwell had called a private meeting with immigrant and refugee community leaders. But the celebration was tempered. Appeals would be likely, lawyers advised. Within a few hours, the White House promised to defend the executive order.

What a week. Let's recap:

Saturday, Jan. 28

Trump’s order sparked chaos at airports across the country as travelers from seven countries and all refugees were temporarily – and immediately – banned from entering the U.S. Even those already on planes in the air.

Within hours of learning about people detained at Sea-Tac airport, protesters flooded the baggage claim area. Passengers being held by U.S. Customs agents could hear the chants: “Let them in.” It was a rhythmic sound, like a clock ticking – a countdown to when their planes were supposed to take them out of the U.S.

Jorge Baron, head of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, pleaded with gate agents: “We’re trying to stop that plane,” he said. “The order is coming.” (Crosscut explained how that unfolded.)

Meanwhile, New York lawyers were working on a stay that would cover all potential detainees coming through.

They couldn’t act fast enough for one Somali man, who was sent back to Vienna. When he was detained, his wife was just six feet away from him on the U.S. side of the customs wall.
 

The wife of a Somali refugee, in yellow, right, leaves Sea-Tac without her husband. He had flown in from Vienna on Saturday but was turned around by U.S. Customs. Attorneys scrambled to file a habeas brief to prevent his departure, but it was too late.
Credit KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

Sunday, Jan. 29

Confusion remained about who could be detained.

Republican legislators who responded to KUOW said they supported the intent behind the executive order and they also wanted to show compassion to legal immigrants and refugees (see how your representative responded).

One such refugee, a mom from Syria, put on a brave face as she realized her family reunion was suddenly canceled. She wouldn’t be meeting her grandchild anytime soon.

Protesters march through downtown Seattle after a rally at Westlake Park on Sunday, January 29, 2017.
Credit KUOW Photo/Caroline Chamberlain

In the early evening, Seattle’s Westlake Park swelled with thousands of people chanting, “No ban! No wall!”

Monday, Jan. 30

Ferguson announced he was challenging Trump in a federal lawsuit, claiming the order discriminated based on country of origin and religion. Companies like Expedia and Amazon provided declarations describing how the order had a negative impact on their employees’ ability to travel.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee reportedly asked staff to look into preventing Washington state data from being used for deportation efforts.

Wednesday, Feb 1.

President Trump defended his executive order on Twitter.

Thursday, Feb. 2

Seattle attorneys working with immigrants and refugees realized their clients’ paperwork was frozen.

A leaked memo confirmed that green card renewal applications for people from seven banned countries were not being denied, but they were being suspended – and “physically segregated.”

Friday, Feb. 3

Washington state propelled itself to the front of the fight against President Trump’s executive orders on immigration.

“The fight isn’t yet won,” said Governor Inslee said after the ruling on Friday. “But we should feel heartened by today’s victory and more resolute than ever that we are fighting on the right side of history.”

After all, more than 20,000 people in our state might have been affected by the so-called travel ban.

What’s next?

Leaked, unverified drafts suggested future executive orders signed by President Trump might affect existing work visa programs (e.g., H-1B), possibly end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and limit public benefits for immigrants.

We'll be following.

Additional reporting by Ruby de Luna, Amy Radil, Isolde Raftery, Carol Smith and Kate Walters.

KUOW’s immigration team reports on how the Trump administration affects immigrants and refugees in our region. Have questions or tips? Contact us.