Sen. Kamala Harris’ 1st Bill Seeks Access to Lawyers for Those Detained Upon Entry to U.S.

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Sen. Kamala Harris filed legislation Thursday that would guarantee access to legal counsel for those detained while attempting to enter the United States.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris participates in a reenacted swearing-in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in the Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Biden swore in the newly elected and returning members on the Senate floor. (Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris participates in a reenacted swearing-in with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden in the Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 3, 2017, in Washington, DC. Earlier in the day Biden swore in the newly elected and returning members on the Senate floor. (Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Hundreds of people were detained at U.S. airports after President Trump issued an order banning entry into the United States for people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Many were held for more than 10 hours without access to phones or to the flood of attorneys who joined protesters at the airports.

The bill is about “when these individuals ask to speak to the lawyer [who] is literally on the other side of the door waiting to talk to them, they are not denied that request,” Harris told the Times.

She stressed that the bill does not say there is a legal right to a public defender or taxpayer funded attorney, but that if a person detained at the border asks to speak to their attorney they can.

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