On Monday, March 6, the Council on American-Islamic-Relations Chicago (CAIR-Chicago) officially announced the formal launch of its special Travelers Assistance project, TAP. TAP had been in operation in beta mode since late January. CAIR-Chicago’s TAP service which aims to help at-risk travelers due to the travel bans with legal assistance on the ground and beyond is strengthened by the partnership of some of the key immigration players in Chicago including top law firms Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym Ltd, Latham & Watkins LLP, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, bar associations Muslim Bar Association of Chicago, National Association of Muslim Lawyers, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, South Asian Bar Association of Chicago and civil rights organizations American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Lawyers Guild.
More partners are expected to be added on in the coming days.
The project recruits hundreds from a pool of over 1400 volunteer attorneys, interpreters and other professionals, and assists thousands of travelers. It also provides an up-to-the-minute information center with the most recent know your rights tips and other important vetted updates.
When the first ban rolled out, volunteer attorneys from civil rights organizations and law firms descended throughout Chicago on O’Hare by the hundreds. Since then, efforts have been made to systemize this wonderfully organic effort into an organized, systemized, and streamlines process in order to maximize return on the incredibly generous yet naturally limited pro-bono resources. The result is the CAIR-Chicago TAP service.
Attorneys who have played critical roles in organizing the earlier effort at O’Hare have been brought on as TAP coordinators: Iman Boundaoui of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, Jamie Friedland of Latham & Watkins LLP, Holly Snow of Paul Hastings, and Matt Pryor.
“TAP combines pro bono legal assistance, technology that streamlines the exchange and access of data, and CAIR-Chicago’s organizational resources and special access and credibility within the Muslim community to maximize results, eliminate redundancies, and ensure the ability to analyze trends,” CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab said.
TAP maintains a consistent present at O’Hare with three shifts covering from 8am to 11pm every day, and will continue indefinitely so long as the need remains.
Rehab added that TAP is designed to accommodate growth and progress. “While the emphasis started with Muslims, TAP will not be limited to Muslims but will accommodate all affected travelers, We also have an eye to take this successful Chicago pilot nationally working with willing local and national partners in other markets. And in terms of technology, implementing the website service as an App, among other things,” he said.
“TAP is a great example of what can happen when specialized organizations in civil society, amazing volunteers with who believe in public service, and private law firms with strong social responsibility come together for the common good of community and country.”
“In the beginning and the end, full credit goes to the volunteer attorneys from all backgrounds who made this effort possible,” Rehab concluded.
TAP’s soft launch (beta) took place a few days after the first travel ban in late January, and the hard launch on the day of the second ban.