On Monday, March 6, 2017, 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 that 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 LtdLatham & Watkins LLPDrinker 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, and the National Lawyers Guild.

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 strengthen this wonderfully organic effort into an organized, systemized, and streamlined process in order to maximize return on incredibly generous yet limited pro-bono resources. The result was the CAIR-Chicago TAP service, which helped bring together over 1400 volunteer attorneys, interpreters, activists, advocates, and supporters to support affected travelers.

Attorneys who played critical roles in organizing the earlier effort at O’Hare were been brought on as TAP coordinators: Iman Boundaoui of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLPJamie Friedland of Latham & Watkins LLPHolly Snow of Paul Hastings, and Matt Pryor, who were facilitated by CAIR-Chicago’s Deputy Director, Sufyan Sohel.

“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 maintained a consistent presence at O’Hare with three shifts covering from 8am to 11pm every day, and continued through the end of May, 2017.

The project also provides a portal for concerned travelers to submit their upcoming travel to O’Hare International Airport.  The TAP legal team monitors those flights and provides assistance and/or guidance in case of prolonged questioning, detainment, or denial of entry into the U.S.  TAP continues to provide an information center with the most recent know your rights tips, travel alerts, and other important updates.

In May of 2017, TAP launched its 24/7 emergency hotline which continues to operate today.  Attorneys are available around the clock to answer travel related questions, provide support & guidance for individuals and their families affected by the Muslim Ban, and intercede to authorities on behalf of travelers.

With three different versions of the Muslim Ban signed into Executive Order – the third of which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in June of 2018 – and the February 21, 2020 expansion of the Muslim Ban, TAP will continue to provide information, guidance, and assistance to all those who are concerned about or affected by the Muslim Ban.