LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — In the shadow of protesters Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport chanting opposition to President Donald Trump’s executive order, Mitra Pouyanejad’s protest was personal, heartbroken and terrified.
“Please release them,” said Pouyanejad, who has been waiting more than a day to see her parents. They arrived from Iran on Saturday and were detained by Customs and Border Protection agents for 22 hours.
They were not released until 3:30 p.m. Sunday.
Pouyanejad says her parents obtained visitor visas in Germany. They then flew Turkish Airlines to the U.S. for a trip to visit their grandchildren. Older and ailing, she was worried their health was rapidly failing as they were kept at the airport.
“Both of them are diabetic, take lots of medicine, both have heart problem, blood pressure, everything,” Pouyanejad told CBS2 prior to their release.
During the 22 hours in which they were in custody, Pouyanejad said she spoke to them for less than a minute. She was not told where they were being held. Pouyanejad says the Department of Homeland Security will not allow detainees use their own phones. A police officer let her mother use his phone to call her for a few seconds early Sunday morning.
“It’s an outrageous sense of deprivation of humanity,” said Patricia Corrales, a former immigration attorney who was trying to help Pouyanejad get answers.
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“Are we gonna keep these individuals like in a Tom Hanks scenario of ‘Terminal?’” Corrales asked. “They’re gonna stay here and live here, for how many days?”
Pouyanejad says her parents had not been to the U.S. in six years. After this trip, she’s not sure how, when, or if they will return.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the CBP to release them.