Donald Trump’s sweeping executive order banning Muslim refugees from Syria and other Muslim countries suffered what could be a fatal blow in Federal District Court in New York City today. A judge blocked enforcement of the order until a full hearing can be held.
The legal move was filed today by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in federal court in the Eastern District of New York.
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly ruled that the “petitioners have a strong likelihood of success” in establishing that the Trump order “violates the rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution.”
“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 U.S. soil,” ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt, who argued the case, said in in a statement.
Trump and the Department of Homeland Security were named as defendants, along with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection department, Homeland Security Director John Kelly and two other officials.
The decision was hailed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“I applaud the stay ordered by Judge Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York regarding President Trump’s dangerous and discriminatory executive action, he said afterward in a statement.
“Let me be clear: President Trump’s executive action is unconstitutional and in clear violation of federal law, including both the Establishment Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965,” he added.
Lawyers representing immigrants arriving in the United States sprang into action almost as soon as the order was filed.
In a related case, a federal judge in Virginia also issued an order barring the deportation of between 50 and 60 legal permanent residents detained at Washington Dulles International Airport, located in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.
The order will remain in effect for seven days until a further hearing can be held.
Trump ignited the uproar Friday (Jan. 28) with an executive order that suspended resettlement of Syrian refugees indefinitely, suspended all other refugee resettlement for 120 days, and banned the entry of nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen for 90 days, according to the civil rights group.
“All seven countries are predominately Muslim countries. We have no doubt that the motivation behind the executive order was discriminatory. This was a Muslim ban wrapped in a paper-thin national security rationale,” the organization said.
The scene at airports and other ports of entry was chaotic because federal authorities wouldn’t allow detainees to contact lawyers or family members, lawyers said.
Donnelly’s order is nationwide in reach and bans the government from deporting arrivals who have have been cleared by immigration authorities.
“Holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, [who are] legally authorized to enter the United States,” are also covered.
Tragically, a number of Iraqi arrivals who had worked for the U.S. military in Iraq were threatened with deportation, which could have put their lives in danger.
“President Trump’s executive action against war refugees represents a new low in modern American foreign policy, and it is incumbent on us to fight back,” Schneiderman said.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two Iraqi nationals and others similarly situated, who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
Hameed Khalid Darweesh, a plaintiff in the New York action, had worked as an interpreter in Iraq for a decade for the U.S. government.
The airport was the scene of mass chaos and demonstrations as federal officers attempted to enforce the order.
Hundreds of protesters flooded JFK’s International Terminal, chanting “Love trumps hate!” and “No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here!” according to media reports.