Last night, a Federal District court issued an emergency stay on deportations for passengers affected by President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry to the US from seven majority-Muslim countries. Since that first decision, three other courts have issued their own rulings, putting a halt to deportations for those detained at airports across the country.
Despite the rulings, there appears to be some uncertainty surrounding the judicial orders. The New York Post reports that some customs agents have ignored the orders, and have not allowed access to detainees. We’ll update this report as more information becomes available.
Trump’s team now appears to be tweaking the executive order in response to widespread protests. Late on Sunday night, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly issued a waiver that allows people holding green cards or with valid permanent residence in the United States to enter the country. In a statement published on the DHS’ site, Kelly said that “in applying the provisions of the president's executive order, I hereby deem the entry of lawful permanent residents to be in the national interest.” The statement says that “absent the receipt of significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations.”
Here’s where we stand:
New York City
Federal Judge Ann Donnelly noted in her decision that that “there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject,” impacted by the order. The order was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a pair of Iraqi refugees who had been detained.
The order only applies to individuals who had been detained at airports around the country: that is, people who had come from one of the nations that were banned in the executive order.
The decision has no impact on the rest of the order, which bans citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya from entering the United States for the next 90 days, bans refugees from those countries for 120 days, and bans refugees from Syria indefinitely.
Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a ruling last night as well for 50 to 60 individuals from the affected countries who are Lawful Permanent Residents. According to petitioners, the people detained were denied access to lawyers, and that removing them from the country would result in “irreparable harm.”
Brinkema agreed, ordering that the detained individuals be granted access to legal counsel, and forbid them from being deported for the next seven days.
In Seattle, members of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project filed for an Emergency Stay of Removal on behalf of two individuals, saying that the detentions were illegal. District Court Judge Thomas Thomas S. Zilly ordered the stay of removal, “pending further order of the court.” He also set a hearing for Friday, February 3rd to determine whether or not to lift the stay.
Finally, petitioners filed a petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive relief with the federal court overnight in Boston, Massachusetts. US District Judge Allison D. Burroughs and US Magistrate Judge Gail Dein found that the detention and removal of “the petitioners and others similarly situated would violate their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection as guaranteed by the United States Constitution,” and that should the detained individuals be removed from the US, they would likely “suffer irreparable harm.”
The judges ordered that the Department of Homeland Security would be required to limit “secondary screening to comply with the regulations and statutes in effect prior to the Executive Order,” were not permitted to “detain or remove” approved refugees, anyone who held a valid Visa, green card holders, and other individuals “who, absent the executive order, would be legally authorized to enter the United States.” The ruling stipulated that the United States Marshall of Massachusetts would be served with the order and required to enforce it, and that Border Patrol and Customs should notify airlines arriving at Boston’s Logan Airport of the order and that individuals on the flights would not be detained or deported. The judges noted that this ruling would remain in effect for seven days, with another hearing scheduled before then.
The four rulings represent a setback for the Trump administration, which was acting on campaign promises to halt the flow of refugees and immigrants to the United States, and were accompanied by widespread protests last night, with more planned in the coming days.
Following the rulings, the American Civil Liberties Union has promised to continue to fight against the executive orders. “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.”
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement this morning that it would “comply with judicial orders; faithfully enforce our immigration laws, and implement President Trump’s Executive Orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or the American people.”
This morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that the country needed extreme vetting, and pointed to immigration in Europe. He also defended his administration decision to provide preferential treatment to minority Christians attempting to enter the United States, noting that they were “executed in large numbers.”
This morning, The New York Times reported that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has said that green card holders will be permitted to enter the country, but that they would have “discretionary authority” to detain and question individuals.
Updated to add information from The New York Times and details of John Kelly’s statement.