Federal judge grants emergency stay of Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’

A Brooklyn judge issued an emergency stay, temporarily freezing the expulsion of travelers under the newly-signed executive order by President Donald Trump that covers 7 Arab nations, after a habeas corpus petition was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Judge Ann Donnelly of the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued the ruling after the American Union of Civil Liberties (ACLU) filed a legal challenge on behalf of two Iraqi immigrants,  Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi.

Both were denied entry to the US after landing at the airports despite having valid visas. US President Donald Trump, US Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Protection are listed among the respondents.

The emergency stay does not only apply to Darweesh and Alshawi, but will also temporarily forbid US authorities from deporting immigrants with valid travel documents who are stranded at airports across the US due to the Trump’s order.

"Class is pretty well defined as outline in the papers - otherwise would be reviewing stays for a hundred people," the presiding judge said, elaborating on the ruling, as reported by Jackie Vimo from National Immigration Law Center, on Twitter.

"The whole point of this hearing is to preserve the status quo. If this had been two days ago we wouldn’t be here," she added.

The judge also requested a list of all people currently detained in the US as result of the implementation of the executive order. 

A statement released by the DHS late on Saturday said the department will “comply with judicial orders” of the federal judge. This does not cancel the president’s executive order, however, the statement added, which means citizens from the list of seven Muslim countries included in the ban still cannot enter the United States.

“These individuals went through enhanced security screenings and are being processed for entry to the United States, consistent with our immigration laws and judicial orders,” the statement said.

Darweesh, who was released later on Saturday, had been granted a Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) for his year-long service to the US as an electrical engineer and contractor, ACLU said. According to a former Washington official, Brandon Friedman, the Iraqi “was one of the first to sign up [as an interpreter] in 2003.”

“Guy literally spent years keeping U.S. soldiers alive in combat in Iraq,” he tweeted.

ACLU Executive Director, Anthony D. Romero, hailed the decision as the “first loss in court” for Donald Trump.

“Our courts today worked as they should, as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders,” he said in statement. 

A group of state attorney generals is discussing an additional challenge to President Trump’s executive order, according to officials from three states that spoke to Reuters. The states of Pennsylvania, Washington, and Hawaii say they are currently working out the wording of their objections and considering which court to file them with.

Some 375 travelers have been affected by the order, according to a DHS source cited by Reuters, including 109 people who were denied entry into the US while in transit. Over 170 people were reportedly barred from boarding US-bound aircraft, the source said.

On Sunday, airlines at Cairo airport were officially asked to prevent US immigration visa-holders from the banned countries from boarding US-bound flights, an EgyptAir official said, as cited by Reuters.

On Saturday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said flight crews from the banned states had also been prohibited from entering the US. In an email to its member airlines seen by Reuters, IATA said it had been briefed by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“Much of this development has come over the weekend and at a time when IATA’s Facilitation team has been on duty travel. Unfortunately, our response has been slower than we would have preferred,” the email said. “A number [of questions] have yet to be resolved.”

Earlier on Saturday, President Trump insisted that his Friday order was “not a Muslim ban,” as the media had dubbed it, as he spoke to reporters in the White House’s Oval Office. He said that measures were long overdue, Reuters reported.

“It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over,” Trump said.

READ MORE: Trump’s 'Muslim ban' sees passengers detained at airports, threatens Silicon Valley

On Friday, Trump signed the executive order, temporarily barring the citizens from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations - Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria - from entering the US. 

The controversial order led to hundreds of immigrants being stranded at airports across the US amid mounting public outrage. 

 At least 12 refugees were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport as a result of the ban, which sparked mass protests there with demonstrators demanding the immediate release of the migrants. 

The executive order called for a pause for all refugee admissions for 120 days and barred travelers from the seven listed countries for at least 90 days. 

  "I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. Don't want them here," Trump said on Friday, citing US national security concerns. Diplomatic passport holders are exempt from the order.