The ACLU has won a minor skirmish against Donald Trump’s effort to keep America safe. Every win has propaganda value.
The news media reports chaos at American airports. I doubt it. Between 100 and 200 persons from the seven countries on President Trump’s travel ban were in legal limbo in airports around the country. For now, they can stay.
There’s no reason for them or anyone else to create chaos.
In a few weeks, a further ruling will be made by Judge Ann Donnelly. No matter which way it goes, the loser will appeal to the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, thousands of potential terrorists will be barred from entering the U.S. because of Trump’s order.
Excerpt from The Guardian
A federal judge has granted a stay on deportations for people who arrived in the US with valid visas but were detained on entry, following President Donald Trump’s executive order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The stay is only a partial block to the broader executive order, with the judge stopping short of a broader ruling on its constitutionality. Nevertheless, it was an early, significant blow to the new administration.
Less than 24 hours after two Iraqi men were detained at John F Kennedy airport in New York on Saturday morning, Judge Ann Donnelly of the federal district court in Brooklyn ordered an emergency stay, blocking the deportation of any individual currently being held in airports across the United States.
“I think the government hasn’t had a full chance to think about this,” Donnelly told a packed courtroom.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed the lawsuit earlier on Saturday, challenging the detention of the two Iraqi men, with two more plaintiffs were later added to the suit, who were both valid US green-card holders. But the judge’s ruling extended to all individuals facing similar situations across the United States.
The two plaintiffs included two Iraqi refugees who had spent hours detained at JFK: Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who had worked for the US government for a decade, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, who arrived in the country to join his wife, a US contractor.
Donnelly, who was nominated by former president Barack Obama, ruled that the deportations could cause the plaintiffs “irreparable harm” by returning them to countries where they had been threatened. She also noted that the plaintiffs included visa-holders who had already been approved for entry to the US, and who, only two days before, would have been let into the country without incident.
“Obviously, we’re extremely pleased,” the head of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, told the Guardian. The judge, he said, “obviously gets the importance of the executive order and its impact on hundreds if not thousands of immigrants and refugees.”
The stay, which applies nationwide, will last at least until a hearing scheduled for 21 February, the judge said, and includes people on valid visas of all kinds and green-card holders.
However, it would only impact those who were “on American soil” – ie those who had been mid-flight or had landed while the executive order was being signed by the president, Romero said.
He estimated that there were at least 100-200 people currently being held in airports across the country, however he said the number could be higher. Asked by the judge to confirm the number, government lawyers were unable to respond with confidence.
Donnelly ordered the government to provide a list of all people currently being held in violation of the order at US airports or in flights, to protests from the government lawyers.
“I don’t think it’s unduly burdensome to get a list of names,” Donnelly said.
Darweesh and Alshawi had both been released earlier on Saturday, the US attorney confirmed, however Romero specified that Darweesh had been released “at the discretion of the executive branch”.
Despite the stay, however, lawyers for the plaintiffs and civil liberties advocates drew immediate concern for the well-being of those granted a stay, as it was widely assumed that the individuals in question would be held in immigration detention facilities until their hearing, three weeks away.
“It’s a long time for people to be sitting in detention centers,” Romero said, adding that the ACLU would be monitoring the conditions in those facilities.
Brian Chesky, the co-founder of Airbnb, tweeted that his company would provide “free housing to refugees and anyone not allowed in the US”, and suggested anyone should contact him if in urgent need for housing.
Judge Donnelly suggested the lawyers should return to court, if the travelers were to be placed in detention rather than be released. “I guess I’ll just hear from you,” she said.
Earlier on Saturday, President Trump’s executive order, signed the day before, sowed chaos in airports, universities, corporations and living rooms in the US and abroad, as people grappled with the ramifications of its sometimes vague language.
Travelers were pulled off plans or detained at checkpoints, universities urged at-risk students not to leave the country or to seek legal advice while tech giants recalled their workers from abroad. Throughout, families took calls from panicked loved ones whose lives were cast into disarray, unable to return to their homes, with everything from cars to pets waiting where they left them.