JUDGE GRANTS STAY, HALTS DEPORTATIONS
Lawsuits begin after detentions of foreigners cause chaos at airports
“There is no evidence that refugees — the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation — are a threat to national security.” CAIR National Litigation Director Lena F. Masri
President Trump’s ban on immigration by citizens from seven Muslim- majority countries ran into at least a temporary roadblock Saturday night, after a U. S. District judge in Brooklyn granted an emergency stay sought by immigrants’ rights lawyers.
The judge’s ruling applies to those who have already arrived in the U. S. and those who are in transit who hold valid visas. The decision halts part of Trump’s executive order, which barred citizens from those seven countries for the next 90 days.
The Department of Homeland Security said that by Saturday evening, its agents had stopped 109 foreigners at U. S. airports based on Trump’s order and prevented another 173 people from boarding flights headed for the U. S.
After U. S. District Judge Ann Donnelly granted the stay, the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU), which had filed suit to block Trump’s ban, issued a oneword celebratory tweet: “Victory!!!!!!”
Trump’s executive order, signed Friday, suspends the entry of all refugees to the U. S. for 120 days, halts admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and bars
entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
A senior Homeland Security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the department quickly overhauled its screening procedures after Trump signed the order Friday. The department issued new guidance to its Customs and Border Protection officers in the field and adjusted its computerized targeting system to identify people who are barred entry through the executive order.
The official said the order allowed legal permanent residents — known as green- card holders — and foreigners who were granted special visas for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters, to enter after undergoing a full background check and inperson interview. The official said 81 people made it through that process and were allowed to enter the country.
In Virginia, another federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Saturday night, directing the Department of Homeland Security to allow lawyers to meet with legal permanent residents detained at Washington Dulles International Airport. U. S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema forbade Homeland Security from deporting any of the green- card holders for seven days.
“President Trump never gave a second thought to how his discriminatory, un- American order would actually play out on the ground,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said.
Karen Tumlin, legal director for the National Immigration Law Center, which was part of the suit in New York, said the lawyers were “tremendously relieved” by the judge’s stay. But she said the legal team was quickly moving to free the immigrants who remained in U. S Customs and Border Protection custody Saturday night based on Trump’s executive order.
She challenged the DHS numbers, calling them “alternative facts.”
“We have 50 Iranian green- card holders being held from one single flight at ( Los Angeles International Airport),” Tumlin said. “It doesn’t add up.”
The fallout from the president’s temporary ban struck with full force earlier Saturday, blocking some travelers from boarding their planes overseas, compelling others to turn around upon arrival in the U. S., and prompting customs agents at New York’s JFK Airport to detain at least a dozen people, including a former Iraqi translator for the U. S. military in Baghdad.
The growing chaos sparked legal challenges, airport protests, condemnations from politicians and denunciations from advocacy groups. The reverberations began only hours after Trump signed the executive order Friday. In brief remarks while signing his latest executive orders Saturday, Trump maintained the order isn’t a “Muslim ban.” “It’s working out very nicely. We’re going to have a strict ban, and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years,” he said.
Hameed Khaldi Darweesh, who was a translator for American forces for 10 years, was detained overnight at JFK along with 11 others following his arrival from Istanbul. After being released Saturday, Darweesh said he had feared he would be sent back to Iraq, which his family fled because of death threats.
When asked by reporters outside the airport what he thought of Trump, Darweesh said, “I don’t know. He’s a president, I’m a normal person.”
He said he was focused instead on the lawyers who won his release. “This is the soul of America,” Darweesh said. “This is what pushed me to move, to leave my country and come here. America is the land of freedom.”
“The impact of what President Trump was looking for is in full effect. Complete chaos.” Abed Ayoud, legal and policy director, American- Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee