Local immigration lawyers fielding calls from panicked clients over executive order

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jan 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-31 18:20:23-05

Confusion and controversy continues to surround President Donald Trump’s immigration order. Meanwhile, local lawyers have been working overtime to make arrangements for panicked clients.

On Friday, the President put a 120-day hold on allowing refugees into the country, an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria and a 90-day hold on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

RELATED: Trump signs executive order banning people from 7 countries

The order was leaked a day before it went into effect giving immigration lawyer Naima Said enough time to call her clients. One of them being a Syrian man granted asylum in the U.S. but was away on business in Saudi Arabia.

“I contacted him and I think he was just kind of driving casually around the city in Saudi and I was like, 'make a U-turn and go to the airport' and he took a flight that night,” said Said with Naima Said & Associates in Columbia.

His flight landed in the U.S. at 8 p.m. President Trump signed the order around 4:30 p.m.

“My heart just sank, because I’m like he's airborne, he doesn’t know. His flight landed and I’m just texting him furiously and I'm like, ‘Here's a copy of the order, here's what you need to do.’ They did detain him for about five minutes and then let him go because there was confusion,” Said said.

Right now, she's advising clients not to leave the country but that if they're trying to come back to fly to Logan Airport in Boston. A federal judge there put a hold on the immigration order.

“In Boston, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are complying with the judge's order. In Dulles, they are not,” she said. "We have colleagues who have basically set up tent at Dulles Airport and when CBP doesn’t give information on how many people they’re detaining in the back, we ask the passengers coming out to give us information, 'Well, what did you see back there?'"

The legality of the order isn't the only thing being scrutinized, thousands of protestors see it as a ban on a religion.

"This is not a Muslim ban, it's not a travel ban. It's a vetting system to keep America safe. That's it. Plain and simple. And, all of the facts and the reading of it clearly show that's what it is,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer during a news briefing Tuesday.

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Not all Muslims see it as clearly as Spicer.

“We are taking a broad brush and we are saying that this country, this entire country that includes 3 year olds, 10 year olds, 15 year olds, whatever, are actually in the same category as a terrorist,” said Cpl. Mansoor Shams.

Shams is a Muslim, a marine, and the founder of His latest mission is greeting strangers and engaging with people in the hopes of changing their perceptions about his religion.

“Someone who looks like me, a guy with brown skin, a black beard may be categorized in some people's minds as a terrorist, or a bad guy. But if you got to know him, he could actually be a proud Muslim, a proud American, and a proud United States Marine,” said Cpl. Shams.

Universities around Baltimore are also urging students and faculty from those seven countries to avoid international travel at this time.

Johns Hopkins University will be holding several informational sessions on President Trump's various executive orders later this week. For more information, click here.

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