Samantha Bee Talks to America's Sweetheart ACLU Lawyer About What His Weekend Was Like

On Wednesday’s episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, Sam Bee returned to her secret hideout in a Manhattan Soul Cycle for “Bunker Talk,” something she says was “not supposed to be a recurring segment.”


The last time Bee went down to her bunker was to talk to journalist Masha Gessen about her grim predictions for a looming autocracy. And now here she is with ACLU civil rights lawyer Lee Gelernt, one of the many attorneys fighting to turn back Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban and rescue detainees from our airports. He is experiencing mixed levels of success.

Many of these detainees were unaware of what they were facing when their planes touched down, as Bee describes, “You take an Ambien, drink a glass of wine and then land to discover America has disappeared.” That’s when the ACLU springs into action. Bee says, “So Lee, you get the call and you’re like, ‘This is the shit I was born to do,’” leading Gelernt to explain what the the last weekend has been like:

“You scramble to try and get someone from the administration on the phone. They’re completely disorganized, or they’re not taking our calls. You say, ‘Let’s file emergency stay papers in the federal courts.’ And the judge was very direct with the government and said, ‘Tell me why you need right now to send these people back to harm. Tell me what the risk is to the government given that these people will have been vetted for months and months by our government. Some even worked with our U.S. Military.’”

Sam Bee says, “It feels like they’ve overstepped so far, that even when they step back they’re still way off the cliff.”

Gelernt agrees, saying, “And that may be their strategy. Even the pushback keeps us well beyond anything any other administration has ever done. And they are pushing the limits of the constitution beyond the breaking point.”

The scariest issue here is that government officials are not complying with the judge’s stay, nor releasing information about people who have allegedly been deported. Gelernt says, “If a government agency intentionally did not listen to a federal court order, that is as serious as you can get in America.”

Contributing Writer, writing my first book for the Dial Press called The Lonely Hunter, follow me on Twitter @alutkin


The Noble Renard

Lee Gelernt is a cool dude and the ACLU’s Immigrants Rights Project is awesome and deserves all of your support (along with all the other orgs that have filed lawsuits this week fighting the executive order, which includes, in alphabetical order, the American Immigration Council, the Legal Aid Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Immigration Project of the NLG Northwest Immigrants’ Rights Project, and the Urban Justice Center . Also, yes, it’s been a crazy fucking week for all of us in the immigration community. Worked essentially noon to midnight on Sunday, 9-midnight Monday, and things have been slowing down a biiiiit but will for sure ramp up again soon. I have colleagues who have worked much more than that. For example, Mark Doss of IRAP is a badass who went out to JFK on Friday night and then spent the next 24 straight hours fighting to get people released. Would love to buy him a drink if I ever get the chance!