Mirriam Seddiq, Dulles Justice and New Effort For Afghan Evacuees

Woke up to see that one of our favorite commenters, Eureka, noted Marcy’s retweet of MirriamZary from late last night. There are so many new folks here, and such a hurricane of strife, in the four and a half years since Trump set the first Muslim Travel ban that I thought a little backstory would be good about now. So, here we go.

@MirriamZary is her Twitter handle, but her real name is Mirriam Seddiq, and she is totally kick ass. I’ve twitter known her forever, there are a certain group of criminal defense attorneys that have long known and interacted with each other, on and off of twitter, and she has very long been one.

The day Trump instituted the Muslim ban in 2017, Mirriam, her partner at Seddiq Law, Justin Eisele, and some local attorney colleagues founded Dulles Justice and camped out at Dulles airport protesting the way Muslims were being detained and denied legal immigration assistance. They gave advice to families concerned, and laid a lot of the initial basis that soon got the Muslim ban set aside. Also inspired similar efforts in international airports all over the country, including here.

It was so inspiring that, after getting some tips from her work, I got off my butt and went and joined some other friends at our local Sky Harbor airport to do the same. That occurred all over the country. Thankfully, it was not that much of a legal problem here, and most of our time went into protesting (and it was a pretty big one) for news cameras and reporters, and not into having to address legal issues and problems. Soon the travel ban was set aside, and a lot of the impetus on the ground started with Mirriam and Dulles Justice. She is a hero, and is clearly now back at it. By necessity, yet again.

So, that is the back story of MirriamZary. Updates will likely be necessary as events are unfolding quite fast. How the Afghan evacuees are treated in the US, and elsewhere, will be an ongoing story and concern for quite some time.

As a coda, for now anyway, I’d like to point out how awesome women criminal defense attorneys are. You may remember me mentioning it here at EW. I took after Kathleen Walsh almost immediately on Twitter because I was so outraged and disgusted by her demeaning article. That was just the start, I kept on for a bit, because Walsh deserved it. Another one of the evil criminal defense attorneys, my pal Scott Greenfield, did a fantastic post on Walsh’s uninformed nonsense. What Kathleen Walsh doesn’t understand is what defense attorneys, and women are a core part of them, really do. They kick ass and take names, and Mirriam Seddiq is a prime example of that.

42 replies
  1. yogarhythms says:

    Mirriam is working moving the needle towards justice. Thank you for celebrating her efforts.

  2. Peterr says:

    Matt Yglesias retweeted a tweet from the Recount that included an AP photo of an Afghan family arriving in the US at Dulles. Yglesias added his own thoughts to the photo: “Imagine ending a harrowing escape with a trip on the weird Dulles people mover.”

    Culture shock does not even begin to describe the path from their home to the Kabul airport to wherever they stopped first (Doha? Ramstein? somewhere else?) before meeting that people mover. Imagine the changing sounds . . . the different encounters with people asking for ID . . . the different sleeping situations (tarmac? floors? beds?). . . the different foods and beverages . . .

    Surreal is an understatement.

    Thanks for the reminder of the folks like Mirriam, and yes, I sadly agree that we’re going to need a bunch of folks like her in the future as these refugees get settled.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The GOP have willfully bound themselves to a whirlwind of escalating extremism and violence – toward women, immigrants, and people of color above all. Its wannabe leaders, like Ron DeSantis, will launch endless attacks against them, and through them, those of us not beholden to their cult of greed, money, power, and white male supremacy.

    There will be an endless need for Mirriam Seddiqs, because the right has chosen to mount a holy war against its fellow citizens. Having lost any grip on the popular vote, owing to demographics and their unwillingness to be anything but extreme, it’s their only way to power. Extreme gerrymandering is an expression of their movement.

    The Supreme Court, it seems, has decided to join them. Its six justice right wing majority has chosen to become a super-legislature, by ruling through unexplained fiat, divorced from all circumstance except their arrogance.

    • Peterr says:

      Well said, except for this: “. . . because the right has chosen to mount a holy war . . .”

      I think you meant to say “an UNholy war” there. In my professional opinion, there’s not a damn thing holy about it.

      Otherwise, you are spot on from your opening words to your highly appropriate finish.

        • John Lehman says:

          No, it’s still the Crusades, Christianity and Islam have yet to make total peace and vestiges of the Crusades and Crusaders continue to march on.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your observation is more accurate. I was trying to focus on the right’s self-perception. Like many of our cultural monsters – the fictionalized Bernard Gui comes to mind – the American right takes pleasure in labeling those whose existence threatens its will to dominate as devils fit only for the stake.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Imagine how poorly the Area Substacker must have felt on hearing that MSNBC is willing to pay a woman more than $30 million a year, and allow her a more flexible schedule to cover the stories she finds most interesting. Meanwhile, poor Glenn – whose desire for money and fame has driven him into the talons of Fox and Tucker Carlson – has to make do on Substack, making three or four percent of that.

    My enthusiasm for the RMS is lukewarm, and I don’t think anyone is worth $30 million a year, not a journalist, athlete, actor, politician, or any other entertainer. But the price differential here seems to fit the value differential.

    • ducktree says:

      In the lofty realms of media buys, $30m is what my Victorian era Grandmother would call “pin money.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        In the world of news anchors, it’s a ton of money, the brass ring GG is selling his reportial soul to get.

  5. harpie says:

    1] Stephen [fkng] MILLER: [More or less] I’m so scared.

    2] Tom Malinowski, [D, NJ-07]
    5:08 PM · Aug 28, 2021

    One thing that “drove oversized crowds to the airport” is that this guy spent four years blocking them from leaving in an orderly manner.

    And no, we’re not going to tell people who risked their lives for us to leave their families with the Taliban. [emphasis added]

    • harpie says:

      [From someone who was there]:
      11:29 AM · Aug 20, 2021

      There were cabinet mtgs about this during the Trump Admin where Stephen Miller would peddle his racist hysteria about Iraq & Afghanistan. He & his enablers across gov’t would undermine anyone who worked on solving the SIV issue by devastating the system at DHS & State. (1/7)

      I tracked this issue personally in my role during my WH tenure. Pence was fully aware of the problem. We got nowhere on it because Trump/S. Miller had watchdogs in place at DOJ, DHS, State & security agencies that made an already cumbersome SIV process even more challenging. (2/7) [THREAD]

    • BobCon says:

      Ted Cruz and others in the GOP are banging the drum to deny entrance to Afghans, and the inevitable media narrative will be that it is the fault of the Democrats for not coming up with the right magic words to make the GOP become reasonable.

      That is, if the press actually pays any attention to the Afghans. There’s a disturbing likelihood that they completely memoryhole them, since their only real concern seems to be continuing the endless war. Paul Wolfowitz is back on the op ed pages spewing his call for more blood, and the vampires like Peter Baker are pumping the views of other ghouls.

      • Leoghann says:

        I’m certainly not rooting for a natural catastrophe, but I’m hoping that Ida can highjack the news cycle long enough to shut the Cuban-Canadian Carpetbagger and his Cruzers up about the Afghan refugees for a few days.

        • BobCon says:

          The GOP will be screaming about Afghans (somehow) taking up resources needed for hurricane victims and the Politico crowd will be applauding the GOP’s supposed savvy, possibly dropping a “to be sure” graf at the end noting there is no connection between Afghan relief aid and hurricane relief.

  6. Solo says:

    Thanks for telling and teaching about this, bmaz. When I taught kids, I learned so much in story form from parents who had arrived with their families trying to escape war. Viet Nam. Laos. Cambodia. Bosnia. Somalia. Ethiopia. Sudan. Anyone who comes into this country is our guest. Anyone who comes into this country as a survivor of a war . . . .? We should be a shelter. A safe place to rest.

  7. OldTulsaDude says:

    What I fear most is a corruption of our judiciary system – and the histories of the death spirals that corruption of the judiciary has signaled for many democracies.

  8. Eureka says:

    Thank you bmaz for the clarification along with your kind words, which mean a lot from y’all smart, caring folks who I hold in high esteem. People change their (twitter) names and so I just went with what was present. I am grateful to Mirriam Seddiq and others with expertise like her for leading the way.

    I’m worried now about where people will go (or fit where we plan to bring them); the cited holding/transition spaces vs numbers of arrivals don’t add up. While citizens and visa holders can move on their own or with the help of family or resettlement organizations, it seems the far greater number of folks will be of liminal status. In the Inquirer yesterday, US Northern Command Commander Gen. Glen VanHerck said they were looking to expand base capacity to 50k by September 15th. Two weeks from exit date with already over 2x that capacity having arrived doesn’t work. Anyone know how many SIVs have been granted (or roughly seem imminent)?

    Also, no public airport welcomes allowed this time around (at least at PHL; perhaps similar at Dulles): the pertinent international terminal is locked down with heavy security. However there are appropriate language speakers greeting arrivals inside with culturally appropriate foods, hygiene and medical services, stuffed animals for kids, etc.




  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I’m not watching the Spa F1, but I did see this charming appraisal of Elon Musk, which the Guardian gave centerfold treatment.

    The noteworthy part about Douglas Coupland’s claim that Musk is, “measurably, scientifically, clinically and demonstrably the smartest person in any room anywhere,” is that Coupland writes fiction for a living. His abandonment of the usual Canadian understatement suggests that his facts fail to support his thesis, rather, his puffery. That the Guardian printed it with such fanfare illustrates its slide into mediocre profit-taking.


    • Raven Eye says:

      Usually The Guardian’s “click bait” is decent reporting — often on topics overlooked or under-reported by other media outlets.

      I hope this is an anomaly because I renewed just the other day.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The Musk advertisement takes the form of an opinion piece – shaped like a Q&A. The questions are put in simplest terms, while the wordy answers are hagiographic spittle with no supporting detail. They reduce to: he’s Elon – and brilliant – so get over it. It’s written by a popular Canadian novelist.

      • Solo says:

        I think an anomaly, Raven Eye. This Guardian piece shows a strong gut-feel hunt for finding and getting inside a story that sticks. From the attached link on the recent evacuation of Afghan woman footballers, here’s the coach, part of a team of women working the phones and laptops from the outside: “I would say: ‘Listen, no matter what, we will not leave our people behind. We will not leave our bodies behind. We’ll do everything possible to stay as a team together.’ At that time I didn’t give a shit about football but I was telling them: ‘This is a football game. We are in the Champions League, we are in the final, we are going to win this. For us, our trophy is to get to the gate.’”


    • Joseph Andrews says:

      @e o hunt:

      When I read your post here (which I agree with 100)…I also think of this:


      Headline: Trump says he deserves Nobel Peace Prize not Abiy Ahmed

      In words I’ve typed here previously:

      I fear that our country has not yet spit out the cancer that is Trump and Trumpism…and I fear the worst (i.e. his return to office).

      On my satellite service, when I finish with the latest sports diversion or Bond movie, I sometimes turn on some channel (American Heritage or something like that) that has fairly decent WWI and WWII programming.

      I am NOT knowledgeable when it comes to World Wars…so some of what I see and hear during these shows is new to me…as in COMPLETELY new.

      Last night I learned the following.

      It turns out that the Soviet Union ‘beat’ the other Allies to Berlin, in part because it was important to the Russians et al to get to Hitler’s body/corpse/skeleton because they wanted to burn it to minimize the ‘hero worshipping’ that they feared Germans would still have for Hitler.

      Can any of the smart readers here confirm this?

      I cannot help but think of Trump when I hear/read stuff like this. In my area of the USA (a small blue university town surrounded by counties that voted 70% (?!) or higher for Trump…there is real ‘hero worshipping’ going on.

      What will it take to end this sort of ‘hero worshipping’ for 45?

      My hero worshipping notions are for the attorneys described in the links and in the ew post here.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Raven Eye says:

      A Presidential Medal of Freedom might be in order, and would help restore at least some of the honor and dignity that Trump squandered.

  10. Joseph Andrews says:

    Excellent post.

    Our midwestern family was routed through O’Hare not long after this:

    (HEADLINE: “Meet The Lawyers Helping Refugees, Immigrants At O’Hare”

    …and more from this one: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-immigration-attorneys-ohare-detainees-20170129-story.html

    Which includes the following paragraph:

    “About 150 attorneys rushed to O’Hare Saturday to help secure the release of more than a dozen travelers held as part of Trump’s crackdown on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. They threw their weekend plans away, postponing family outings, ignoring household chores and canceling restaurant reservations to assist clients they had never met nor would ever bill.”

    Some of the hand-written-by-Sharpie signs were still up in O’Hare’s International terminal when we were there…signs aiming to direct the Muslims affected by the Trump ban to the right place.

    It was surreal.

    As bad as Trump was (and remains)…is there any American WORSE THAN STEPHEN MILLER?

    I can’t think of a single one. Miller is at least tied-for-first as the ‘Worst American Alive Today’.

    When I think of this stuff I’m reminded of the following: about one-third of Americans consistently support Trump and Miller.

    My oh my.

  11. John Lehman says:

    Face Book Kabul narrative posted by my son, a State Department employee:

    “I’m in Kabul Afghanistan. I’m about to leave. This is one of the last images I will remember from Kabul. It was a spectacularly clear morning. After a long night of assisting with the evacuation, the foothills of the Hindu Kush came into focus outlining the city in majestic stillness and serenity, while Taliban checkpoints delineated Hamid Karzai Airport within the city limits. It’s not the image that’s seared into my memory however. I spent last night in a UNICEF tent with children orphaned by the suicide attacks the night before. I witnessed things that are unfathomable, impossible to forget and difficult to talk about. I have a rolodex sized list of phone numbers of veterans of the war in Afghanistan, whom I contacted in the States to let them know that their translators made it inside the airport, past Taliban checkpoints and they were now safe with me. The sounds of relief and gratitude were palpable and continue to beat in my eardrums. I worked many nights at Abbey gate hand-in-hand with our Marines, searching for Americans in the masses then putting them on C-130s. Abbey gate is the site of the horrific suicide attacks that claimed 170 lives, including 13 of our Marines and other service members. Our job was impossible without them, they were the mission. The fact that no diplomats were among the casualties was partly due to chance as the attacks occurred during a shift change. I likely would have been at Abbey gate that night. I never returned, but the images of Abbey gate and the dark and narrow corridor of desperation and trauma will never leave me.”

  12. mospeck says:

    Welcome Afghan refugees. Come as you are (like my grandma did 116 years ago running away from an arranged marriage. And she ended up just in time for Kitty Hawk). Don’t be late, join the fray and welcome to our boiling pot USA.
    One way out of the jam seems to be Up and Mary is sure convinced that another Kitty Hawk is coming.

  13. Marinela says:

    Trying to find out information on why the Trump Administration when they negotiated the Taliban “peace” deal in Doha, they didn’t have the Afghan government included.
    It seems to me like the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.
    On one hand, they gave Taliban the reign of the country after the US withdrawal, and negotiated the US withdrawal with Taliban as if they were in power. On the other hand, at the same moment in time, the US kept propping the US Afghan government with 1billion a month and pentagon kept training the US Afgan forces to fight Taliban forces.
    I know we are talking Trump deals, but still, it doesn’t make sense to me on why the peace deal didn’t include all the relevant players, which would be the Afghan government.

  14. Marinela says:

    Trying to find out information on why the Trump Administration when they negotiated the Taliban “peace” deal in Doha, they didn’t have the Afghan government included.
    It seems to me like the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing.
    On one hand, they gave Taliban the reign of the country after the US withdrawal, and negotiated the US withdrawal with Taliban as if they were in power. On the other hand, at the same moment in time, the US kept propping the US Afghan government with 1billion a month and pentagon kept training the US Afghan forces to fight Taliban forces.
    I know we are talking Trump deals, but still, it doesn’t make sense to me on why the peace deal didn’t include all the relevant players, which would be the Afghan government.

  15. Ginevra diBenci says:

    bmaz, Kathleen Walsh’s piece was all and only about scoring cheap rhetorical points at the expense of other professional women–ironic, given her stated desire to redress those very wrongs. I’m a little surprised NYMag published it, given the weakness of the argument and the writing. She could just as easily turn around and argue the great value of criminal defense attorneys to our legal system (I’m sure she’s capable of understanding it) but playing this political hand suited her and her editors better. For now.

    Especially stupid on Cosby, in my view.

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