Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the ACLU to stay deportations of those detained on entry to the United States following President Donald Trump’s executive order. 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 suit 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 been 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.
After the decision was made, Donnelly asked the government if they could provide a list of those being detained to the ACLU. The government’s attorneys indicated that they could not. “It is more difficult than it sounds,” U.S attorney Susan Riley said.
The ACLU said it had won a stay in federal court preventing implementation of the executive order.
As President Donald Trump’s order targeting citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries reverberated across the world on Saturday, it became increasingly clear that the controversial measure he had promised during his presidential campaign was casting a wider net than even his opponents had feared.
Confusion and concern among immigrant advocates mounted throughout the day as travelers from the Middle East were detained at U.S. airports or sent home. A middle-of-the-night lawsuit filed on behalf of two Iraqi men challenged Trump’s executive action, which was signed Friday and initially cast as applying to refugees and migrants.
But as the day progressed, administration officials confirmed that the sweeping order also targeted U.S. legal residents from the named countries – green-card holders – who happened to be abroad when it was signed. Also subject to being barred entry into the United States are dual nationals, or people born in one of the seven countries who hold passports even from U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom.
The virtually unprecedented measures triggered harsh reactions from not only Democrats and others who typically advocate for immigrants but also key sectors of the U.S. business community. Leading technology companies recalled scores of overseas employees and sharply criticized the president. Legal experts forecast a wave of litigation over the order, calling it unconstitutional. Canada announced it would accept asylum applications from U.S. green-card holders.
Yet Trump, who centered his campaign in part on his vow to crack down on illegal immigrants and impose what became known as his “Muslim ban,” was unbowed. As White House officials insisted that the measure strengthens national security, the president stood squarely behind it.