Immigration lawyer from Knocklyon comes to aid of detainees in Chicago

Mohammad Amirisefat (right) had to wait hours at O'Hare International Airport to be reunited with his sister Zahra Amirisefat (left). | Sam Charles / Chicago Sun-Times

Following Donald Trump’s order for “extreme vetting” of visitors and legal U.S. residents from seven Muslim countries there was scenes of outrage and protest throughout America over the weekend.

The introduction of the ban on Friday led to many innocent children and elderly people, some of them refugees, being detained for hours in various US airports.

Immigration lawyers, activists and politicians alike reacted furiously and rushed to help some of the stranded travellers find a way back home.

One of the lawyers who helped organise relief efforts at O Hare Airport in Chicago was Fiona McEntee who is originally from Knocklyon.

Fiona McEntee

The 35 year old Dubliner, who has been working in Chicago for ten years and is the Managing Attorney of her own practice, McEntee Law Group, was one of up to 150 lawyers who gave up their weekend voluntarily offering pro bono legal aid to anyone who said their family members were being held by authorities.

Before setting up her own practice in late 2009, she spent several years working for a Chicago-based law immigration firm and she put all her years of experience to good use over the weekend.

McEntee, who is a member of The American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the volunteer lawyers at O’Hare put in a trojan effort in what was a chaotic scenario. Speaking to a local TV station she said:

“Initially we weren’t able to speak to them. I tried.

“I went into the CPB. I had a G28 which is the form that we normally file with cases that allows us to enter an appearance as an attorney.

“They do not honor them.

“They would not let me speak to the client.

“There could be whole families traveling together and they could be all in there.

“And this isn’t even the refugees situation, this is permanent residents.

“Green card holders returning home to America from a brief trip abroad have basically been detained for five hours.”.

Eventually everyone detained throughout Saturday had been released by 11 p.m after a federal judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to Trump’s travel ban, saying travellers who had been detained had a strong argument that their legal rights had been violated.

McEntee was delighted to see a day that began with so much chaos have a happy ending.

“I felt like we really saw democracy in action tonight with all the people that came out to show their support.

“People bought us coffee and bought pizza. It was incredible.”