Trump Order to Return Refugees and Visa-Holders Blocked by Judge

The Trump administration’s executive order that would have led to the removal from U.S. airports of refugees, visa holders and legal U.S. residents from seven mostly Muslim countries has been temporarily blocked by a federal judge from enforcing it.

hours after the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups sued to halt President Donald Trump’s Jan. 27 order, the U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in Brooklyn issued the ruling following an emergency hearing Saturday night. Efforts to send back refugees and visa holders who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were stopped by the judge.

People were being detained at airports from Dallas to Atlanta to New York, and sparked an outcry from foreign officials, Democrats in Congress, executives in Silicon Valley, and immigration lawyers due to the executive order, aimed at stopping would-be terrorists from entering the country. The critics of the order claimed that it violated the U.S. Constitution. Protests erupted at airports across the country.

However Trump’s executive order isn’t struck down by Donnelly’s ruling.

Including Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an interpreter who had worked for the U.S. military in Iraq were two men who were barred entry at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport and the ACLU and other groups sued on behalf of these two men. Both were later allowed in. An emergency request “to prevent the imminent repatriation of dozens and dozens of refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27 executive order” was brought by the groups.

“They were vetted, given legal permission and caught in transit,” Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the ACLU told Donnelly. Though lawyers were trying to account for all the people who were detained, the number of people affected could be “upwards of 100 or 200 people,” he said.

He’d been passed a note saying the government “is literally, as we speak, putting someone on a plane back to Syria”, Gelernt told Donnelly during the hearing. Lawyers for the government lacked information about how many people were being held and faced deportation even though they opposed the stay.

“This has unfolded with such speed that we haven’t had an opportunity to address any of the issues,” said Susan Riley, a lawyer with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn.

The government’s lawyers were repeatedly asked by Donnelly to justify their argument that she shouldn’t issue the delay during the 25-minute hearing.

“How can you argue that they won’t suffer irreparable injury?” the judge asked, while referring to the people who were being detained in airports around the country.

Chanting slogans in support of the detainees, hundreds gathered outside the Brooklyn courthouse before the hearing. As news of the stay filtered out of the courtroom, the crowd cheered and celebrated.

While Donnelly considers the underlying suit, which seeks a permanent ban on the removals based on Trump’s executive order, the stay will remain in place at least until Feb. 21.

Sending back of dozens of people who are legal, permanent, U.S. residents, holding a so-called green card and who were being held at Dulles International Airport was stopped in Virginia through a second federal judge who temporarily blocked the Trump administration. Although she didn’t order them released, the U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinema in Alexandria said the 50-to-60 people must also be given access to lawyers, those people were all from counties listed in the executive order.

(Adapted from Bloomberg)

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