News & Politics

Despite Court Order, US Officials Won’t Allow Lawyers at Dulles to See Detainees

"Not going to happen," is the message delivered to lawyers by a border agent.

Protestors rally during a demonstration against the Muslim immigration ban at Dulles International Airport on January 28, 2017 in Sterling, VA. President Trump signed the controversial executive order that halted refugees and residents from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Sipa via AP Images)

The US Customs and Border Protection Agency at Dulles International Airport has refused to grant attorneys access to any detainees it may be holding, according to Sharifa Abbasi, who is coordinating the volunteer lawyer efforts underway there. Yesterday, a federal judge for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered respondents, who include CBP, President Trump, and the CBP Port Director for Dulles Wayne Biondi, to “permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport.”

Abbasi says late Sunday morning a border agent told lawyers that agents have been instructed not to speak with them. About 15 lawyers have been directed to call Steve Sapp, an official with the CBP Office of Public Affairs, but have so far have not had their calls answered or returned. Washingtonian called the number, which directed reporters to a cellphone number whose voicemail was full.

Abbasi and one other lawyer we spoke to say officials at Dulles have refused to engage with the lawyers since this morning. A border agent who agreed to bring the lawyers’ request for access to detainees, as well as a copy of the order, to her supervisor came back with this message: “It’s not going to happen.”

Lawyers at Dulles are currently considering motions to hold the government in contempt and to compel disclosure of any individuals who are being detained.

Contributing Editor

Amanda has contributed to Washingtonian since 2016. She has written about the right-wing media personality Britt McHenry, chronicled her night with Stormy Daniels, and come clean about owning too much stuff. She lives on H Street. She can be reached at [email protected].