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JFK Airport Volunteer Group Provides Update While Continuing to Wait on Information on Last Detainee

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Queens, NY - January 30, 2017 marks the third day that the volunteer group at JFK has had its unofficial headquarters at Terminal 4. While there has been some clarity on the overall situation at JFK, questions continue to linger. At noon on Saturday, January 28, the New York Immigration Coalition took over coordination efforts, and the group of legal, technology, digital media, and other volunteers has promised to remain for however long they are needed.

Camille Mackler, Director of Legal Initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, provided the following update:
We are not in communication with the government in any official capacity. The numbers we provide come from our lawyers being deployed at terminals, and connections made with the families and loved ones of detainees who get to the airport gates.
The numbers we have at the moment remain at 42 released individuals, one of whom came as a refugee and therefore was not technically detained, two deported individuals, and, as of this afternoon, two individual not yet accounted for.
Of the 46 individuals identified by the group, 15 are Iranian nationals, 5 are Iraqi nationals, one Libyan national, one Saudi Arabian national, one Senegalese national, three Sudanese nationals, three Syrian nationals, eight Yemeni nationals, and ten undetermined.

The two deported individuals were of Sudanese and Irani nationality.

Entry documents of the individuals varied as well. One person was admitted with an Advance Parole document, five with B1/B2 visas, three with an F-1 visa, nineteen legal permanent residents with green cards, three with IR-5 visas, one with a K-1 visa, and one with a refugee travel document. Of the two individuals deported, one was on an H-1B visa and the other had a multiple-entry student visa. Nine individuals did not report their immigration status.

While the numbers of potential incoming detainees have been decreasing, the bigger issue now is that individuals are not being allowed to board flights at their country of departure. Of specific interest are individuals who have been granted legal permanent residence but are unable to pick up their green card until they arrive on U.S. soil. The Urban Justice Center is assisting with this effort.

In terms of legal actions taken to date, the lawyers who are part of this volunteer group have continued with writs of habeas corpus on behalf of individual detainees while the American Civil Liberties Union has taken broader legal action.

We continue to work with airport authorities to keep our volunteers stationed at Terminal 4, with smaller groups of volunteers at other terminals for intake. We are particularly indebted to the airport staff and Central Diner at Terminal 4.

The work that has been done here over the past few days and continues to go on has been incredibly impactful. On an individual level, volunteer attorneys, translators, and others have helped reunite families with their arriving loved ones. At a higher level, the group has brought awareness to the consequences of President Trump’s Executive Order through continued advocacy and social media outreach through the @NoBanJFK Twitter handle, #NoBanJFK hashtag, website, and more.
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