Visa holders from seven majority- Muslim countries who were turned away from the US due to President Donald Trump's travel ban are rushing to try again, hoping to make it through a narrow window opened by legal challenges.
The federal appeals court in San Francisco denied Trump's effort to immediately reinstate the ban early today. For now, it remains blocked by a judge's temporary restraining order, and federal officials have told their staffs to comply.
Advocates weren't taking any chances, telling people who could travel to get on the earliest flights they could find after the week-old ban was blocked Friday by US District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
"We're telling them to get on the quickest flight ASAP," said Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan. Her group sued in federal court in Detroit, challenging Trump's executive order as unconstitutional.
Protesters sought to keep up the pressure, gathering in Denver and other U.S. cities to demonstrate against the ban.
Meanwhile, legal advocates waited at airports in case anything went wrong with new arrivals.
Renee Paradis was among 20-25 volunteer lawyers and interpreters who stationed themselves inside John F. Kennedy's Terminal 4 in New York in case anyone needed help. They were carrying handmade signs in Arabic and Farsi "that say we're lawyers, we're here to help. We're not from the government," Paradis said.
"We're all just waiting to see what actually happens and who manages to get through," she said. Some people have had to make hard choices.
A Yemeni family expected to arrive at John F Kennedy International Airport on Sunday from Egypt after leaving two of their four children behind. The father and two children are U.S. citizens and the mother has an immigrant visa, but the other two are waiting don't have their papers yet.
"They just don't want to take a chance of waiting," she said.
The State Department has advised refugee aid agencies that refugees who had been scheduled to travel before the order was signed will now be allowed into the US. A State Department official said in an email obtained by The Associated Press that the government is "focusing on booking refugee travel through February 17," and they were working to have arrivals resume as soon as Monday.