Immigration attorneys reeling from hundreds in need of free legal advice

Posted at 8:21 PM, Jan 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-30 22:28:27-05

Attorneys with the Arizona Chapter for American Immigration Lawyers are reeling from the unexpectedly huge response they received recently after offering to help people with travel concerns Sunday at Sky Harbor.

Attorneys expected to meet with dozens of immigrants coming off international flights at Sky Harbor Sunday, but not the more than 600 people that lined up for hours.

"Our struggle locally in Arizona is how do we maintain presence, (because) there's only so many of us. We're not sure, should we be vigilante every day at the airport? Should we have someone there or do we have a number people can call?"  Reyes said.

Reyes told ABC15 the organization is now trying to solve a problem they didn't see coming.

Many of the travelers were concerned about being separated from family members overseas along with upcoming travel.

“The main concern is Hajj which is going to be coming up - the pilgrimage to Mecca for those who can make it and the concern is 'do I leave?'" Reyes said.

Attorneys are advising any green card holders to stay put and don't travel out of the U.S.

"If you're a green card holder there are a lot of questions on what was your nationality prior to getting the green card, so I would say don't travel," advises Reyes.

Anyone with Visas are being warned to consult an attorney before you travel out of the country.

"You don't want to be alone and at that customs gate where no one knows you're coming and no one knows you're going," said Reyes.

If you're a U.S. citizen and a minority especially if you're nationality is from one of the seven countries named on the travel ban, attorneys say you should be okay to travel, but take precautions and arm yourself with information if you're stopped at customs.

"Let's start taking names, let’s start taking badge numbers, and ask why am I being held here?" said Reyes.

The Arizona Chapter for American Immigration Lawyers and the ACLU have filed lawsuits to protect constitutional rights.  

Immigration attorneys are also working to set up a travel helpline for anyone who is concerned. 

We'll let you know when and if it is set up.