Video: Activists protest Trump’s ‘racist, unconstitutional’ ban on Muslim-majority nationals entering the US
President Donald Trump’s order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States sparked outrage but hit a roadblock when a federal judge said stranded travellers could stay in the country.
- The stay temporarily allows people with valid visas to stay in the US, or enter if in transit
- The ruling will affect up to 200 people either in transit or detained in airports
- It comes after chaos at US airports as large crowds gathered in protest
The emergency court ruling was in response to a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Iraqi men Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who had been an interpreter for the US military, and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi.
The ruling, by Judge Ann Donnelly of a US District Court in New York, was cheered at Boston’s Logan International Airport, one of several major US airports where protesters angry with Mr Trump’s order gathered.
“I am directing the Government to stop removal if there is someone right now in danger of being removed,” she said in the court hearing. “No one is to be removed in this class.”
US Department of Justice attorney Susan Riley during the hearing said: “This has unfolded with such speed that we haven’t had an opportunity to address all the legal issues.”
The lawsuit on behalf of the Iraqis challenged Mr Trump’s order on several grounds. It said the order violated the US constitution’s guarantee of due process by taking away their ability to apply for asylum, and violated the guarantee of equal protection by discriminating against them on the basis of their country of origin without sufficient justification.
It also said the order violated procedural requirements of federal rulemaking. The next hearing in the case was set for February 10.
Hundreds affected, including flight crew
It was a dramatic end to Mr Trump’s first week in office, capped by the Republican President’s four-month ban on refugees entering the US and a 90-day hold on travellers from Syria and six other countries.
Mr Trump had promised during his campaign what he called “extreme vetting” of immigrants and refugees to try to prevent terror attacks.
The White House could not be immediately reached for comment on the emergency court ruling.
The ACLU estimates the ruling will affect between 100 and 200 people who are currently either in transit or detained at airports.
It was unclear how quickly the judge’s order might affect people in detention, or whether it would allow others to resume flying.
As of Saturday night (local time) US Customs and Border Protection had denied more than 170 people entry to the country.
Senior officials at the US Department of Homeland Security told reporters they had not seen the ruling, but said the Government would implement any appropriate orders.
The ban also applies to airline flight crew, the International Air Transport Association said in an email to carriers around the world.
The email, seen by Reuters, said Friday’s executive order from Mr Trump caught airlines unprepared.
US Customs and Border Protection briefed IATA about the new rules, the email said, noting that passport-holders from states such as Iran, including cabin crew, will be barred entry to the US.
Immigrants rights attorney Lee Gelernt said those affected by the judge’s order “will not be returned back to danger”.
“The judge in a nutshell saw through what the Government was doing,” he said as he came out of court.
ALCU executive director Anthony D Romero added: “Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders.”
Trump says order ‘working very nicely’
Mr Trump earlier told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office that his order was “not a Muslim ban” and said the measures were long overdue.
“It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over,” Mr Trump said.
International Rescue Committee president David Miliband said Mr Trump’s immigration order plays into the hands of the Islamic State group.
“The propaganda gift of this is to people who would do damage to the United States,” he said.
“There’s nothing that ISIS want more than to be able to say to Muslims around the world, ‘look, we’re the people who’ll protect you, America will never give you haven’.”
The order put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the US and also extends to green card holders who are granted authorisation to live and work in the US.
It has prompted fury from Arab travellers in the Middle East and North Africa who said it was humiliating and discriminatory, while drawing widespread criticism from US Western allies including France and Germany, Arab American groups, and human rights organisations.
Iran said it would stop US citizens from entering the country in retaliation for the ban.