A federal judge in the Eastern District of New York has issued an emergency stay to halt President Trump’s executive order banning Muslim immigrants from seven countries. The decision comes as a result of efforts by the ACLU and their writ of habeus corpus filed on the behalf of Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, two men denied entry after arriving at JFK airport in New York.
The decision only protects those already here or in transit with an official visa, but it is a victory for those who protested most of Saturday and all of the lawyers who are donating their time to aid those stranded by the executive order. According to the Washington Post, Judge Ann Donnelly reached her decision to halt the deportations during a small hearing between ACLU lawyers and a government lawyer via telephone:
After a brief hearing in front of a small audience that filtered in from a crowd of hundreds outside, Donnelly determined that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision. She seemed to have little patience for the arguments presented by the government, which focused heavily on the fact that the two defendants named in the lawsuit had already been released. At one point, she visibly lost patience with a government attorney who was participating by phone.
Donnelly noted that those detained were suffering mostly from the bad fortune of traveling while the ban went into effect. “Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” she said at one point, noting that, had it been two days prior, those detained would have been granted admission without question.
In the middle of the hearing ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt informed the court that he’d received word of an imminent deportation to Syria, scheduled within the hour. That prompted Donnelly to ask if the government could assure that the person would not suffer irreparable harm. Receiving no such assurance, she granted the stay to the broad group included in the ACLU’s request.
This does not bring the executive order to an end or stop the Trump administration from banning future immigrants and refugees from entering the country. But for now, those detained at airports around the nation will be able to enter the United States. And according to Dale Ho at the ACLU voting rights project, the stay also ensures that no one affected today can be removed and that the government must provide names of those affected.