Amidst chaos and Outcry, federal judge blocks Trump’s #muslimban
After nationwide protests, Brooklyn federal court grants emergency stay temporarily HALTING deportation of visa holders detained at US airports
Afederal judge in Brooklyn came to the aid of scores of refugees and others who were trapped at airports across the United States on Saturday after an executive order signed by President Donald Trump, which sought to keep many foreigners from entering the country, led to chaotic scenes across the globe.
The judge’s ruling blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Trump’s actions. The high-stakes case played out on Saturday amid global turmoil, as the executive order signed by the president on Friday afternoon slammed shut US borders for an Iranian scientist headed to a lab in Massachusetts, a Syrian refugee family headed to a new life in Ohio and countless others across the world.
The president’s order, enacted with the stroke of a pen at 4:42 pm on Friday, suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The Department of Homeland Security said the order barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States. In a briefing for reporters, White House officials said green card holders from the seven affected countries who were outside the United States would need case-by-case waivers to return.
Trump — in office just a week — found himself accused of constitutional and legal overreach by two Iraqi immigrants, defended by the American Civil Liberties Union. Meanwhile, large crowds of protesters turned out at airports around the country to denounce Trump’s ban on the entry of refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Lawyers who sued the government to block the White House order said the judge’s decision could affect an estimated 100 to 200 people who were detained upon arrival at American airports.
Judge Ann M. Donnelly of US District Court in Brooklyn, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, ruled just before 9 pm that implementing Trump’s order by sending the travellers home could cause them irreparable harm. She said the government was “enjoined and restrained from, in any manner and by any means, removing individuals” who had arrived in the United States with valid visas or refugee status.
The ruling does not appear to force the administration to let in people otherwise blocked by Trump’s order who have not yet traveled to the United States.
The judge’s one-page ruling came swiftly after lawyers for the ACLU testified in her courtroom that one of the people detained at an airport was being put on a plane to be deported back to Syria at that very moment. A government lawyer, Gisela A. Westwater, who spoke to the court by phone from Washington, said she simply did not know.
Hundreds of people waited outside of the courthouse chanting, “Set them free,” as lawyers made their case. When the crowd learned that Donnelly had ruled in favour of the plaintiffs, a cheer went up in the crowd.
Minutes after the judge’s ruling in New York City, another judge, Leonie M. Brinkema in US District Court in Virginia, issued a temporary restraining order for a week to block the removal of any green card holders being detained at Dulles International Airport. Around the nation, security personnel at major international airports had new rules to follow, although the application of the order appeared chaotic and uneven. Humanitarian organisations delivered the bad news to overseas families that had overcome the bureaucratic hurdles previously in place and were set to travel. And refugees on flights when the order was signed on Friday found themselves detained upon arrival.
“We’ve gotten reports of people being detained all over the country,” said Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project. “They’re literally pouring in by the minute.”
Earlier in the day, at the White House, Trump shrugged off the sense of anxiety and disarray, suggesting that there had been an orderly rollout. “It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared,” he said. “It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports; you see it all over.”
To many, the government hardly seemed prepared for the upheaval that Trump’s actions put into motion.
There were numerous reports of students attending US universities who were blocked from returning to the United States from visits abroad. One student said in a Twitter post that he would be unable to study at Yale. Another who attends the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was refused permission to board a plane. A Sudanese graduate student at Stanford University was blocked for hours from entering the country.

Human rights groups reported that legal permanent residents of the United States who hold green cards were being stopped in foreign airports as they sought to return from funerals, vacations or study abroad. There was widespread condemnation of the order, from religious leaders, business executives, academics, political leaders and others. Trump’s supporters offered praise, calling it a necessary step on behalf of the nation’s security.
Homeland Security officials said on Saturday night that 109 people who were already in transit to the United States when the order was signed were denied access; 173 were stopped before boarding planes heading to America. Eighty-one people who were stopped were eventually given waivers to enter the United States, officials said.
Legal residents who have a green card and are currently in the United States should meet with a consular officer before leaving the country, a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told reporters. Officials did not clarify the criteria that would qualify someone for a waiver, other than that it would be granted “in the national interest.” The president’s order appeared to be enforced chaotically, with agencies and officials around the globe interpreting it in different ways.
The Stanford student, Nisrin Omer, a legal permanent resident, said she was held at Kennedy International Airport in New York for about five hours but was eventually allowed to leave the airport. Others who were detained appeared to be still in custody or sent back to their home countries. White House aides claimed on Saturday that there had been consultations with State Department and Homeland Security officials about carrying out the order. “Everyone who needed to know was informed,” one aide said.
But that assertion was denied by multiple officials with knowledge of the interactions, including two officials at the State Department. Leaders of Customs and Border Protection and of Citizenship and Immigration Services — the two agencies most directly affected by the order — were on a telephone briefing on the new policy even as Trump signed it on Friday, two officials said.