Judge blocks removal of detainees in U.S. airports

Hundreds of protesters took over the international terminal at the San Francisco International Airport.

by America Arias and Bianca Graulau

A New York federal judge issued on Saturday an emergency order temporarily prohibiting U.S. officials from sending back detainees from Muslim-majority nations after President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. The decision affects those already in the U.S., or on their way, and who have valid visas or refugee status.

Judge Ann Donnelly of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York issued the order after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed the case on behalf of two Visa-holders from Iraq with ties to the U.S. military who were detained at JFK International.

Trump’s executive order is now frozen until the case can be briefed, which will likely be sometime next month.

The federal judge’s decision comes after protesters carried out demonstrations at several international airports, including San Francisco International Airport, where lawyers say a refugee family from Yemen and three Iranian citizens were detained.

"We have lawyers here representing the folks that are detained," said Nina Farnia, president of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. "We will fight. We will fight the Trump administration. We will challenge every unjust policy that comes down until the fascism ends."

Under President Trump’s orders, travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen are denied entry into the United States for 90 days – including those with visas and green cards. The order also prohibits refugees from entering the country for 120 days, and bars refugees from Syria indefinitely.

Trump has said the move helps to create “extreme vetting” of visa-seekers from predominantly Muslim countries. The president has said the action isn’t a “Muslim ban,” but critics disagree.

On Saturday, protesters took their message to the airports. Thousands showed at airports in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The protesters demanded the release of detainees held at after the order and called for Trump to reverse his decision.

The travel ban even impacted Oscar nominees and high-profile scientists, according to media reports. The list included an Iranian scientist who was scheduled to begin working on a cure for diabetes at Harvard University, according to The Boston Globe.