We received an outpouring of support from both Arabic and Farsi speaking individuals and communities and are no longer in need of volunteers at this time. The response has been both humbling and staggering, and it is a tremendous statement of the strength and generosity of our communities.By way of update, the passengers on Friday’s two flights disembarked without incident (that I am aware of), without any issues with the Boston customs team disobeying the court order. We are optimistic that we will have similar experiences with today’s flight, and we have a team of 8 volunteer interpreters (two per flight speaking Arabic and two speaking Farsi) lined up in case their help is needed.Although we have more than enough volunteers (thank you!), anyone who would like to participate or show support is welcome to go to Logan and you can be assured that you’ll find good company there if you attend around the time of any of the expected flights today (arriving 1:10 and 6:30). The place to go is Terminal E (Arrivals), and there is a table set up that is very hard to miss where volunteers are coordinating the legal response. If you have legal training (not necessary!), please also let the volunteers know and they can fill you in on some of the legal work we’re doing in terms of collecting statements, affidavits, etc. Good idea to bring phone/laptop chargers and food (unless Dunkin Donuts is a sufficient source of calories). Again, please do not feel compelled to go – based on turn-out so far, the volunteers have outnumbered the affected travelers by a ratio of at least 3:1!Again, thank you for being willing to help.Best wishes,Mike
The following information has been provided to us from a Boston law firm:
Teams of lawyers have been sent to Boston Logan Airport every day since last weekend to try to intervene pro bono on behalf of visa holders who are affected by Trump’s immigration order. Teams on the ground have been hindered in some cases by not having anyone with them who could speak either Arabic or Farsi.
Logan is one of the most critical locations for arriving visa holders because of all of the court orders issued restraining the enforcement of the President’s executive order, the court order in Massachusetts was the most protective. Consequently, many firms and lawyers around the world have been advising affected travelers to try to reroute their incoming flights through Boston. The court order also potentially expires Saturday evening, so we anticipate a lot of travelers to try to get back this weekend.
We don’t have a lot of insight into who comes in, so our main tactic has been to identify arriving international flights that are likely to have affected persons on board. Then we send teams to Logan in advance of those flights landing. One of the most effective strategies has been to canvass the arrivals area and look for people or families who are awaiting friends or relatives. We ask whether or not their friends/family are coming from an affected country. Ideally we find someone who can identify a traveler who might get held up, and who might have a way to communicate with them (cell phone) after they land but before they go through customs and are detained. If we can speak with the traveler before they are detained, we’re able to give them critical legal advice to help ensure they get the benefits of the Boston court order. There’s also a possibility that we’ll be able to advocate for them (habeus petitions) in the event that the federal officials do not properly obey the court order and to not give the affected person access to lawyers. When things have gone perfectly, we’ve been literally taking on clients pro bono (including running conflicts checks live), entering into verbal engagement agreements, and giving them advice before they have even finished deplaning. We have also been interviewing people who come through to ask (i) what their experiences were, so that we can substantiate whether the government is complying with the court order and (ii) asking people from all countries whether or not they witnessed individuals either being denied boarding or being removed from the plane after landing.
The legal aid groups have some Arabic and Farsi speakers, but very very few, and they appear to be too overwhelmed with the legal side of the work to organize volunteer translators. Everyone here would be very grateful if we had at least one Farsi and one Arabic speaker volunteering. It’s helpful not only in terms of overcoming language barriers and in terms of building trust with very anxious families who are unsure as to whether their relatives will be admitted or placed into custody.
Any chance you guys know folks in Boston with ties to local Arabic or Farsi-speaking communities and who are in a position to get the word out to potential volunteers? We don’t need dozens of folks, just one or two Arabic and one or two Farsi speakers per incoming flight. Right now we’re looking to support legal teams that are going to be intercepting the following flights:
- Saturday, flight incoming from Frankfurt, scheduled to arrive 1:10 pm
- Saturday, flight incoming from Munich, scheduled to arrive 6:35 pm
- Sunday, flight incoming from Frankfurt, scheduled to arrive 1:10 pm [STAND BY – ONLY IF COURT ORDER IS EXTENDED]
- Sunday, flight incoming from Munich, scheduled to arrive 6:35 pm [STAND BY – ONLY IF COURT ORDER IS EXTENDED]
Really appreciate any leads! Feel free to share this e-mail if helpful.