Customs and Border Protection officials at Dulles airport outside Washington, D.C. refused on Sunday to allow immigration attorneys to meet with their detained clients. CBP officials also refused to allow four members of Congress into the “secondary inspection” area, where the detainees were being held.
On Saturday, a federal judge in Virginia ordered ordered CBP to “permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport.” According to the Washingtonian, however, the detainees’ attorneys received a message—delivered by an intermediary border agent—from senior CBP staff at Dulles on Sunday morning: “It’s not going to happen.”
CBP’s obstructionism actually began late on Saturday night, when they not only refused New Jersey senator Cory Booker access to the detainees but declined to even meet him face to face, The Daily Beast reports. Instead, the senator wrote questions on a piece of paper, which police officers relayed to CBP officials, who then responded in kind.
“I am now of the belief that though this was issued by the judicial branch, that it was violated tonight,” Booker later told the assembled crowd of lawyers and demonstrators. “And so one of the things I will be doing is fighting to make sure that the executive branch abides by the law as it was issued in this state and around the nation. This will be an ongoing battle.”
“We see tonight what I believe is a clear violation of the Constitution,” he continued. “And so clearly tonight we have to commit ourselves to the longer fight. Clearly tonight, we have to commit ourselves to the cause of our country. Clearly tonight, we have to be determined to show this world what America is all about.”
Congressman Don Beyer echoed that sentiment on Sunday, after he and attorneys for a Sudanese green-card holder were similarly refused access. He was later joined by Congressmen Gerry Connolly, Jamie Raskin, and John Delaney. “We have a constitutional crisis today,” Beyer tweeted. “Four Members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”
Late on Sunday—after watching Finding Dory (an animated film about a divided family going to mythic lengths to be reunited)—the president issued a statement. “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” it read. “This is not about religion—this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
Tens of thousands of people filled streets across the country for the second night in a row.