Statement from Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on the Detainee Situation at LAX

January 30, 2017

“I went to LAX last night because I wanted to secure the release of the detainees. I also wanted very direct answers to basic questions:

 

  • Was the federal government complying with a court order that prevented it from deporting people in this situation?

  • How many people were being detained?

 

It was a very frustrating and complex night because federal officials were unable and unwilling to provide any information. I was there for hours last night. Since that time, I’ve been working with lawyers, not only in my office but throughout the country to get a focus on what’s happening, and to determine how best to stand up for the values on which this country is based.

 

This is an extraordinary thing. It’s at a US airport. It’s an airport in our city. There’s been a lot of action since last night. Courts around the country have issued orders. The question last night was could the federal authorities remove someone who had landed. The answer from one court was no. Today, two more courts said no. And another court said you can’t detain people in this situation either. So today we’ve been focused on assuring those that have been detained at LAX, I believe unlawfully, are released. And more to come as we try to figure out in this country, at this key moment, do we stand up for the basic liberties that make this country distinctive.

 

On the one hand, the sweep of this order is outrageous. Secondly, it was timed to be released right before the weekend. Third, officials at the airport were clearly confused and lacking direction from the federal government in Washington on what to do. So for those who are saying this is a minor inconvenience don’t understand the facts on the ground

 

The order itself is far too sweeping and the implementation has been unconstitutional, in my view. People in this country - we’re talking about lawful permanent residents who are returning to this country or coming here for the first time to be united with family. They have rights! They were lawfully granted authority to come to this country and now that authority has been blocked. Here in Los Angeles, we stand up for uniting families. We stand up for giving people their basic rights. We need to prevent this from having a further negative effect on our community.

 

I believe this order will not stand. I believe this implementation will not be allowed to move forward. There are courts around the country poised to handle this.

 

There are some very serious concerns to be taken into account:

 

  • Are people of each religion being treated equally? Members of the Muslim community are being treated differently than people that are Christian or Jewish or others. And that’s not appropriate in my view.

  • Second, people have basic due process rights to have their causes heard. They aren’t able to be detained for no reason.

  • There are multiple reasons based on equal protection clause of the Constitution, the First Amendment, the due process clause that I think call into serious question the legality of this order."

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The Office of Mike Feuer

Los Angeles City Attorney

James K. Hahn City Hall East, Suite 800

Los Angeles, CA 90012 | 213-978-8100