USA First Look

Following night of protest, judge grants stay on executive immigration order

A federal judge has granted a temporary stay on some parts of President Trump’s executive immigration order, allowing dozens of green card and visa holders originally from the banned countries to re-enter the United States.

People participate in a protest against President Trump's travel ban outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York City, Saturday.
Andrew Kelly/Reuters | Caption

Following protests that drew thousands to airports around the country, a federal judge has granted a temporary stay on President Trump’s executive order, enacted on Friday, that bars immigrants from several predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States.

The stay, issued Saturday night by US District Judge Ann Donnelly after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a petition on behalf of the detainees, granted entry to between 100 and 200 people held at airports.

“Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” Judge Donnelly said, according to The Washington Post. She noted that if the travelers had arrived just two days earlier they would have walked through the terminals without issue.

The executive order, which partly fulfills a promise Mr. Trump made on the campaign trail, blocks people from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the US. It included green card and visa holders who were out of the country at the time of signing, banning them from returning for 90 days. The order also places a 120-day ban on admitting new refugees. 

When announcing the executive actions, officials said there was an exemption for immigrants and green card holders whose presence in the US serves a national interest, but specifics on the measure’s implications were not immediately clear.

While immigration advocates and many Democrats celebrated the ruling, the stay doesn’t overturn the full scope of the executive order. Instead, it allows those inconvenienced by the sudden executive action to circumvent the new security measures.

“President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place – prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the US government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. “No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States.”

It was not immediately clear how other green card holders would be affected.

The ruling followed protests at airports in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, and several other cities. Governors, senators, and mayors arrived to protest the order alongside citizens. Some organized additional protests for Sunday.

A second ruling came in Alexandria, Va., when US District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a temporary restraining order to block the deportation of any green card holders held at Dulles International Airport for seven days. The action also ordered that those held must have access to lawyers.

Others are planning additional legal action. The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it plans to file a lawsuit Monday challenging the order as unconstitutional, and the ACLU says it will continue to fight the executive orders.

“This is only the beginning,” Anthony Romero, the executive director of the ACLU, said in statement. “This is merely the first skirmish in a long battle to vigorously defend the Bill of Rights from the authoritarian designs of the Trump administration. Savor this victory tonight, but prepare to fight on.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.