January 29, the Day the World Holds its Breath

I was transfixed and horrified by the story which unfolded yesterday. As families were torn apart, and refugees fleeing violence and death were told that they couldn’t come into this country, protests began and grew and grew until they were enormous. The crowd at JFK airport was a movement, with folks in the parking garage, on the streets, with signs, chants, and huge crowds.

Meanwhile, one woman who was told she would have to return to her country attempted suicide. I have not yet heard of her condition as of this morning.

In the evening, a judge in Brooklyn ordered a stay, and ordered all detainees be released. This didn’t apply to everyone affected by the ban — it didn’t apply to someone still in Iran — but it did apply to those who are most vulnerable, the ones already in transit.

So this is already a terrifying few days, where all American values are turned inside-out, where we become like Germany, the day the wall went up, ripping families apart.

However, for me there was a small silver lining — the protests, combined with the power of the judiciary, proved the power of checks and balances. We just might get through this after all.

And then I read this:

 

DULLES, Virginia ― The U.S. government must “permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport” a federal judge in Virginia ordered late Saturday.

 

But U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at this airport outside Washington, D.C., defied the judge’s order, blocking attorneys from talking to the lawful permanent residents CBP was detaining here.

CBP agents never actually complied with the judge’s order, because they never let the attorneys into the area where the agency was holding the detainees, eight of the attorneys told HuffPost. But by around 1 a.m. on Sunday, some four hours after the order came down, CBP officials had allowed all but one of the people they were holding to enter the United States.

 

“It is unusual for an agency to deny a court order ― a court order clearly stating that these people need to be provided counsel,” said Claudia Cubas, an attorney with Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition. “We asked several different agency heads to request access to speak to these people and were told ‘no.’”

Sirine Shebaya, a Washington-based civil rights attorney, and Ofelia Calderon, an immigration attorney in Fairfax, Virginia, said that CBP was “absolutely” in contempt of the Brinkema’s order.

Just to be clear, the CPB got a direct order from Trump. A judge overruled that order. The CPB ignored a direct order from the courts because they were answering to Trump.

That’s not democracy, and that’s not the rule of law.

That is a Coup D’Etat.

So, in the coming days and weeks, we have to ask ourselves not only, Can it be fought in a court of law? and Did we win in court? but, What do we do if the enforcers don’t follow court orders? What will we as a society do then?

 

 

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