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Civil liberties lawyers say they remain vigilant in face of Trump orders

The New York Civil Liberties Union says they and fellow legal advocates have representatives on the ground to assist anyone still affected by President Donald Trump's immigration orders, including the one barring entry from a selected set of nations that the White House considers terror breeding grounds. Meanwhile, local workshops are being planned to assist any new arrivals by advising them of their rights.

The NYCLU hosted a conference call Monday afternoon to update participants on legal action against President Trump's executive orders. Lawyers and regional directors then took turns providing updates on local activities, including complaints, litigation and protests.

"Over the weekend, we received a number of calls from green card holders returning to the United States via the international bridges," said John Curr, director of the NYCLU's Western Regional Office, which covers Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties. "There's been reports of long secondary inspections and scrutiny of their social media upon returning to the United States."

The NYCLU had lawyers and volunteers standing by at airports, ready to aid clients whose attempts to enter the U.S. were subject to Trump's ban.

"We are monitoring the situation and coordinating across the country and doing what we can to help people reunite with their families and friends and continue their lives as soon as possible," said NYCLU senior staff attorney Mariko Hirose.

Donna Lieberman, the NYCLU's executive director, said her organization and others were also pressing elected leaders to defy and reject what she called "draconian" orders, including the travel ban, Mexican border wall and threatened punishment of "sanctuary cities" by withholding federal funding.

"What's clear is that these orders caused enormous pain, fear, trauma and that they go against everything that this country represents," Lieberman said. 

Curr said there were no problems reported at weekend protests held at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. He suggested there was even a surprise participant.

"One security guard at the airport took off his vest and joined the protesters, explaining that he had been a refugee some seven years earlier," Curr said. "It was a very powerful, moving experience."

A "Know Your Rights" workshop has been scheduled for Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., at Jericho Road at 184 Barton Street. Curr said a forum has also been planned for Saturday evening, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Sugar City Arts Collaborative on Niagara Street, though speakers had not yet been finalized as of Monday night.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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