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Demonstrators converge outside Terminal 5 of O’Hare Airport in January, after President Donald Trump’s first executive order declaring a 90-day suspension of immigration from some countries. | Associated Press file photo

Activists predict more chaos in wake of high court’s travel ban ruling

SHARE Activists predict more chaos in wake of high court’s travel ban ruling
SHARE Activists predict more chaos in wake of high court’s travel ban ruling

Expect more of the chaos that travelers experienced at O’Hare International Airport earlier this year, when President DonaldTrump’s first travel ban was rolled out.

That’s the message from lawyers and activists opposed to the ban, following Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing a limited version of Trump’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries.

“I plan to be back at O’Hare because we all anticipate further chaos given this decision — at least in the initial days — very similar to what we saw when the first travel ban came into effect,” said Vivian Khalaf, an immigration lawyer based in Palos Hills.

The high court’s decision saidTrump’s revised ban — the president himself has slammed it as “watered down” — on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

But Khalaf and others say they’re not sure just what constitutes a “bona fide relationship.”

“How do you define that? Must they be immediate relatives? Do you have to have a contract with an employer in place?” Khalaf said.

Attorneys at O’Hare International Airport in January, ready to help detainees. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Attorneys at O’Hare International Airport in January, ready to help detainees. | Andy Grimm/Sun-Times

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations-Chicago, agreed.

“There will be a lot of interpretation, both by [the federal government] and agents and attorneys. So there will be relative chaos again and relative subjectivity and a lot of back and forth,” said Rehab, whose group organized the project that has had volunteer attorneys stationed at Terminal 5 — O’Hare’s international terminal — to help passengers from the affected countries.

Lawyers are still there, but only two to three on any given day, Khalaf said. She expects that number to rise significantly when the limited ban goes into effect.

She also expects more clarification about the specifics of the ban.

“How quickly that will happen is unknown,” she said. The federal government doesn’t “have a history of moving quickly or of being prepared prior to decisions being rendered. There should be a plan B — a plan A, B and C on paper, ready to be distributed to border patrol agents.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the court’s decision “deeply concerning” and reiterated his administration’s opposition to what he called “this ill-conceived and discriminatory ban.”

Activists, however, note that the court’s decision wasn’t entirely unexpected.

“We were preparing for it,” said Rehab, calling the ruling disappointing. “We were hoping for the best and expecting the worst.”

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