Immigration Ban Suspended In Part By Federal Courts — Refugee Deportation Halted

In an emergency move on Saturday night, a federal judge in New York’s Eastern District issued an emergency halt to a provision of President Trump’s immigration ban. The order halts the deportation of anyone currently being held by Customs and Border Patrol. In writing the decision and order, judge Ann Donnelly noted the following:

“There is imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 2 7, 2017 Executive Order”

The court’s ruling was on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi. The pair were detained by Customs and Border Patrol when they landed at JFK airport in New York City. Darweesh had been granted a visa after many years of working with the U.S. military in Iraq as an interpreter and engineer. Alshawi was coming to join his wife and son in the United States who had been granted visas after performing similar services.

The deportation of the two would have exposed them to possible repercussions and retaliations in their native countries specifically for the services they and their families had provided to the United States military. A 2013 Forbes article highlighted the dangers to interpreters that serve the United States. Interpreters have expressed fears that they would be killed and beheaded because everyone knows that they have worked with coalition forces.

The judge’s ruling will affect an estimated 200 people currently being held in airports across the United States. These people are holders of legitimate visas and green cards who were detained based on President Trump’s executive order.

It is important to note that the ruling does NOT affect people who were not already in the United States or en route. People who are still stuck abroad are still stuck there pending a complete ruling on the constitutionality of the immigration ban. However, the stay will prevent deportations until a permanent ruling is made.

Deportations were halted by a federal judge late Saturday night

Based on the decision, the ruling was granted because of four specific factors, the most important of which is the likelihood of success on merits. This means that Judge Donnelly feels that the ban has a good chance of being overturned for existing visa holders.

One of the chief issues with the executive order was the vague wording. Because the ban was issued late in the day on a Friday, there was no time for government offices to get clarification. That means that different departments chose to interpret the wording differently. That led to confusion about how the ban should and would be implemented and enforced.

The confusion about the constitutionality of the ban comes from the unclear wording in section (c) which states in part:

“and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order…”

The executive order refers to seven countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, in a blanket measure. Supporters of the order point to the six similar bans that President Barack Obama issued executive orders banning immigrants and nonimmigrants as well. For the record, those six bans were as follows:

July 25, 2011. Barred those under a UN travel ban, or who broke 29 executive orders covering transactions with terrorists.

Aug. 4, 2012. Banned anybody involved in war crimes, or just about any other crime including human rights violations.

April 23, 2012. Banned those helping Iran or Syria, or involved in human rights abuses for those countries.

May 1, 2012. Another ban on those helping Iran and Syria.

April 3, 2014. Banned anyone known to threaten South Sudan.

— March 6, 2014. Barred entry of those claiming government authority in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

Federal courts blocked a portion of Trump's executive order, halting deportations

It is likely that the Trump administration will seek to reinstate deportations while the order is being reviewed by the courts. In the meantime, protests have begun at major airports and cities around the country as citizens declare their support for immigration.

The complete text of the decision can be read here.

[Featured Image by Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Images]