In a significant blow to President Donald Trump, a US judge issued an emergency order staying deportations for people who have arrived in America with valid visas from seven Muslim-majority nations but were detained on entry due to the controversial immigration ban.
US District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York issued the emergency order after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a petition on behalf of two Iraqi men detained at the John F Kennedy International Airport as thousands of people joined demonstrations at airports across America to protest over Trump’s immigration ban on Muslims.
Judge Donnelly, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, ordered that the government could not remove “individuals with refugee applications approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the US Refugee Admissions Programme, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen legally authorised to enter the United States.”
She ordered the government to provide lists of all those detained at US airports since the measure went into effect.
The judge said that sending those travellers back to their home countries following Trump’s order exposes them to “substantial and irreparable injury.”
The order barred US border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the US with a valid visa from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. It also covered anyone with an approved refugee application.
Trump ordered “extreme vetting” of people entering the US from seven Muslim-majority countries and banned the entry of Syrian refugees until further notice yesterday, as part of new measures to “keep radical Islamic terrorists” out of America.
The controversial move, signed a week after he was sworn-in as the President, fulfills the vow Trump made on the campaign trail to limit Muslim immigration to the US.
“This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off US soil,” ACLUs Immigrants’ Rights Project Deputy Director Lee Gelernt said, welcoming the ruling.
“Judge issued stay on Muslim ban, said no one could be removed/sent back. But unclear what will happen to those detained,” said ACLU executive director Anthony D Romero.
Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country, he said.
“Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court,” he added.
“Trump’s war on equality is already taking a terrible human toll. This ban cannot be allowed to continue,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLUs Immigrants? Rights Project.
The executive order signed by Trump bars citizens of seven countries from entering the US for the next 90 days and suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days. There is exception for Christian refugees.