Families began reuniting at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport early Sunday after a Seattle-based federal judge stayed President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, according to The Seattle Times.
U.S. District Judge James Robart ordered a stay Friday in a lawsuit challenging the ban, brought by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an emergency appeal of Robart’s ruling early Sunday.
That left a gap in the ban that travelers can use to re-enter the United States.
Fouad Alali, 34, of Kent, talked about being able to fly into the country from Dubai and rejoin his sister, Zaynab, with whom he lives.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Alali, who holds a green card as a legal permanent resident.
Zaynab Alali now awaits the arrival of her husband, who is in the same situation her brother was able to remedy, she said.
There were no protesters in the airport early Sunday, the Times reported. There were two lawyers and a paralegal holding signs offering their services, in Arabic, to arriving refugees.
“We’re just starting to enter the window where people will start to arrive,” Sound Immigration attorney Greg McLawsen told The News Tribune on Sunday. “Just given the timing of Friday’s order, people weren’t standing at airport terminals waiting to get on planes.”
McLawsen said the volunteer attorneys are working on a digital notification system for when people affected by the travel ban are arriving at Sea-Tac Airport that they hope will be complete within the next week.
Volunteer attorney Takao Yamada said other immigration lawyers recommended that their clients return home as soon as possible, but few were able to quickly get tickets for international flights. Yamada said he expects a significant uptick in arrivals Monday and Tuesday, and possibly into Wednesday depending on further U.S. court rulings.
Port of Seattle spokeswoman Susan Stoltzfus told The News Tribune the airport is not expecting any people arriving Sunday from the seven countries affected by the travel ban, but that employees are only tracking those travelers who were turned away after arriving at the airport.
Stolzfus says the airport is operating as usual and remaining in contact with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
“The only thing out of the ordinary is having lawyers in the baggage claim area there to help out anybody who has questions,” Stoltzfus said.