A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency order temporarily barring the US from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump's travel ban. There have been protests at a number of airports.
Lawyers from a number of immigration organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have sued in the federal court in Brooklyn, New York on behalf of two men from Iraq. One was a former US government worker. The other was the husband of a former US security contractor.
Judge Ann Donnelly ruled on a complaint filed by the ACLU on behalf of the two Iraqi citizens, who were held at the John F. Kennedy International Airport less than a day after Trump's executive order.
The two men had visas to enter the US but were detained on Friday night just hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning travelers from Muslim majority nations Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Trump also put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the US.
The judge also ruled that the government must provide the names of other people in a similar situation to the two Iraqi men.
Executive order 'remains in place'
The ACLU lawsuit called for the release of the two Iraqi men and a block on the enforcement of Trump's order on behalf of a class of people with valid entry documents in similar situations. The ACLU estimated up to 200 people might be affected. Their "continued unlawful detention is part of a widespread pattern applied to many refugees and arriving aliens detained after the issuance of the January 27, 2017 executive order," the lawyers wrote.
The US Department of Homeland Security said in a statement issued hours after the ruling was announced that only a small fraction of airline passengers had been "inconvenienced while enhanced security measures were implemented."
However, it said Trump's executive order remained in place and that it would be enforced.
"President Trump's Executive Orders remain in place: prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the US government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety," the statement said.
A Homeland Security Officer said 109 travelers were denied entry into the US in the first 23 hours of Trump's order and US Customs and Border Protection had denied more than 170 people entry to the US as of Saturday night.
A protest against Trump's order developed at the New York airport on Saturday when it emerged a number of refugees were being detained.
State Governor Andrew Cuomo was among those seeking legal assistance for people being detained at New York airports:
More than a dozen protests against the president's executive order were also planned or underway on Saturday across the country in Miami, Dallas, Las Vegas, Chicago, Boston, Houston and other cities. There were other protests planned for Sunday.
There had been confusion throughout the day following the signing of the order on Friday, with some US companies concerned their international employees could be barred from returning to the US.
jm/bw (Reuters, AP)