President Donald Trump's controversial immigration order against people from seven Muslim-majority countries today hit a roadblock as a US judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring authorities from deporting refugees and other visa holders who have been detained.
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 the immigration ban took effect triggering protests at major airports across the country.
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."
The judge 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.
President Trump yesterday ordered "extreme vetting" of people entering the US from seven Muslim-majority countries and banned the entry of Syrian refugees until further notice, as part of new measures to "keep radical Islamic terrorists" out of America.
The countries impacted are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
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.
Welcoming the federal judge's ruling, ACLU s Immigrants Rights Project Deputy Director Lee Gelernt said, "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."
"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.
"President 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 ACLU s Immigrants Rights Project.
The executive order signed by Trump bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority 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.--PTI