President Donald Trump’s order to restrict people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States sparked outrage and hit a roadblock late on Saturday when a federal judge said stranded travelers could stay in the country.
The emergency court ruling was cheered at Boston’s Logan International Airport, one of several major U.S. airports where protesters angry with Trump’s order gathered.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which sought the temporary stay, said it would help 100 to 200 people with valid visas or refugee status who found themselves detained in transit or at U.S. airports after Trump signed the order late on Friday.
The ACLU, along with several groups, filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqi men who were en route to the United States on immigrant visas when Trump issued the executive order banning many Muslims from entering the country.
One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was traveling on an Iraqi special Immigrant Visa and had worked as an electrical engineer and contractor for the U.S. government from 2003–2010.
Brandon Friedman, a former Obama administration official who commanded a platoon during the invasion of Iraq, said Darweesh had worked for him as an interpreter. He said on Twitter that Mr. Darweesh “spent years keeping U.S. soldiers alive in combat in Iraq.”
The other man, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had been granted a Follow to Join Visa. His wife and 7-year-old son are lawful permanent residents residing in Houston, Texas, and were eagerly awaiting his arrival. Alshawi’s son has not seen his father for three years.
“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 judge’s order later on Saturday was a dramatic end to Trump’s first week in office, capped by the Republican president’s four-month ban on refugees entering the United States and a 90-day hold on travelers from Syria and six other countries.
Trump had promised during his campaign what he called “extreme vetting” of immigrants and refugees to try to prevent terror attacks.
He told reporters in the White House’s Oval Office earlier on Jan. 28 that his order was “not a Muslim ban” and said the measures were long overdue.
Senior officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told reporters they had not seen the ruling, but said the government would implement any appropriate orders.
In the ban…
The ban on U.S. travel for passport-holders of seven Middle Eastern states applies to airlines’ flight crew, the International Air Transport Association said in an email to carriers around the world on Saturday.
The email, seen by Reuters, said the executive order from the president caught airlines unprepared.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection briefed IATA in a Saturday afternoon conference call 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 United States.
Reaction from Turkey, Britain, Iraq
Trump’s sweeping ban on people seeking refuge in the United States is no solution to problems, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday, adding that Western countries should do more to help ease Turkey’s refugee burden.
When asked by a reporter about Trump’s ban during a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Ankara, Yildirim said: “Regional issues cannot be solved by closing the doors on people. We expect the Western world to lighten Turkey’s burden.”
“You can build a wall but it’s not a solution. That wall will come down like the Berlin wall,” he said, adding Turkey has spent some $26 billion on sheltering refugees.
May, who met with Trump in Washington a day earlier, told the news conference that the United States was responsible for its position on refugees. She has previously said a “special relationship” between the United States and Britain meant the two countries could speak frankly to each other when they disagreed on issues.
Iraqi lawmakers have requested that parliament discuss Trump’s action.
Rinas Jano, a member of the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, said he made the request with several other MPs.
“We want officials from the Iraqi foreign affairs ministry to come to parliament to explain the U.S. decision and discuss the matter,” he told Reuters.
The Iraqi government has so far declined to comment on the executive order signed by Trump.
Yemen is “dismayed” by Trump’s decision, saying that the country was a victim of attacks itself, an official said on Saturday.
“We are dismayed by the decision to unilaterally ban, even for only a month, travel to the United States for people holding Yemeni passports,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.