With Trump's travel ban still in flux, these lawyers created a brilliant way to help.

When President Trump passed an executive order temporarily banning travelers from "terror-prone" countries, Seattle attorney Takao Yamada hurried to the airport.

He was one of the first lawyers on the scene to lend a helping hand to innocent people who might be affected by the order.

"It was chaos," Yamada says. Families waiting on loved ones, panicked. Not knowing if they were stuck in extensive interviews, being sent home, or worse.


No one knew what exactly the order meant or how it was being enforced.

All the disorder made it hard to really help anyone, Yamada says. Without knowing who was coming into the country, where they were coming from, and which kinds of papers they had, well-meaning attorneys were left scrambling.

Photo by Konrad Fiedler/AFP/Getty Images

Yamada got together with some fellow attorneys and had an idea: What if there was a way for us to get all of that information ahead of time?

Any good lawyer knows they're a lot more effective with the proper preparation.

Yamada along with co-founders Greg McLawsen and Tahminda Watson, worked with some software developers to (quickly) create an app.

The app "Airport Lawyer" connects travelers coming into the U.S. with volunteer attorneys who can help them navigate U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

AirportLawyer.org

Using a nationwide network of thousands of volunteers — Yamada said there are hundreds of attorneys in Seattle alone willing to help, free of charge — travelers from abroad can arrange to have a lawyer meet them at the airport when they land.

Sometimes, the lawyers will be prepared with extra papers and documentation to avoid any holdups at Customs and Border Protection. Other times, they'll simply be a calm, informed presence that can keep tabs on the process and communicate with U.S. family members.

Though a federal court temporarily struck down Donald Trump's travel ban, the administration is fighting back. Yamada expects more confusion and chaos as the chips continue to fall.

Here's how you and your loved ones can use Airport Lawyer to help ensure safe and fair travels.

Step 1. Go to AirportLawyer.org and click "Get help now for an arriving immigrant."

Provide as much information as you can on behalf of the traveler, including arrival date, airport, airline and flight number, visa type, and how the attorneys can get in touch with family members on the U.S. side.

Step 2. Once you do that, Airport Lawyer supervisors get notified of the arrival and match you with a volunteer attorney.

All the information is stored on a secure system, where the team will connect you with a volunteer lawyer near your airport (most of the big ones are covered, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Denver, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.). If they can match you with an attorney, that person will reach out and help you come up with a plan for arrival.

Step 3. Stick it to Donald Trump.

Arrive safe. Clear Customs. Embrace your family. Show Donald Trump that his bigoted and unconstitutional policies won't stand without a fight.

"It's just been so amazing seeing how many people want to help," Yamada says.

He recalls witnessing many powerful reunions between long-lost relatives, made possible in large part by the hard work of thousands of whip-smart attorneys during their precious free time.

Yamada himself wears several professionals hats, along with volunteering. And, oh yeah, his wife is pregnant. But he makes the time because he knows this is important.

"Most people are just trying to get back here to see their family," he says. That's nothing something Donald Trump should be allowed to take away from us.

More

Mom and blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom regularly shares snippets of life with her two children on her Facebook page. One particularly touching interaction with her daughter is melting hearts and blowing minds due to the three-year-old's wise words about forgiveness.

Even adults struggle with the concept of forgiveness. Entire books have been written about how and why to forgive those who have wronged us, but many still have a hard time getting it. Who would guess that a preschooler could encapsulate what forgiveness means in a handful of innocent words?

Keep Reading Show less
Family

California has a housing crisis. Rent is so astronomical, one San Francisco company is offering bunk bedsfor $1,200 a month; Google even pledged$1 billion to help tackle the issue in the Bay Area. But the person who might fix it for good? Kanye West.

The music mogul first announced his plan to build low-income housing on Twitter late last year.

"We're starting a Yeezy architecture arm called Yeezy home. We're looking for architects and industrial designers who want to make the world better," West tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Cities

The U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, but the victory is marred by the fact that the team is currently fighting for equal pay. In soccer, the game is won by scoring points, but the fight for equal pay isn't as clearly winnable and the playing field isn't as even.

We live in a world where winning the World Cup is easier than winning equal pay, but co-captain Megan Rapinoe says there's one easy way fans can support the team: Go see games.

Some people argue the men's team deserves to get paid more because they are more successful and earn more money for the United States Soccer Federation. Pay depends on merchandise and ticket sales, and in general, men's sporting events tend to draw a bigger crowd than women's sporting events. It's not about sex, many argue; it's about the fact that people just prefer to see men play.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

You think you know someone pretty well when you spend years with them, but, as we've seen time and again, that's not always the case. And though many relationships don't get to a point where the producers of "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" start calling every day just to chat, the reality is that sometimes partners will reveal shocking things even after you thought you'd been all shocked out.

That's the case for one woman whose Reddit thread has recently gone viral. The 25-year-old, who's been with her boyfriend for five years, took to a forum for relationship advice to ask if it was normal that her seemingly cool and loving boyfriend recently revealed women shouldn't have a fundamental right. (And no, it's not abortion — although there are a lot of "otherwise best ever boyfriends" out there who want to deny women the rights to bodily autonomy, too.)

Keep Reading Show less
Recommended