US judge bars deportations under Trump travel ban

WASHINGTON — A federal judge issued an emergency order Saturday night temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York issued the emergency order after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from seven predominantly Muslim nations who were detained at airports across the country as the ban took effect.

As the decision was announced, cheers broke out in crowds of demonstrators who had gathered at American airports and outside the Brooklyn courthouse where the ruling was issued.

The order barred U.S. border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the U.S. with a valid visa from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. It also covered anyone with an approved refugee application.

It was unclear how quickly the order might affect people in detention.

Under Trump’s order, it had appeared that an untold number of foreign-born U.S. residents now traveling outside the U.S. could be stuck overseas for at least 90 days even though they held permanent residency “green cards” or other visas. However, an official with the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday night that no green-card holders from the seven countries cited in Trump’s order had been prevented from entering the U.S.

Some foreign nationals who were allowed to board flights before the order was signed Friday had been detained at U.S. airports, told they were no longer welcome. The DHS official who briefed reporters by phone said 109 people who were in transit on airplanes had been denied entry and 173 had not been allowed to get on their planes overseas.

Trump billed his sweeping executive order as a necessary step to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” from coming to the U.S. Included is a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.

The directive did not do anything to prevent attacks from homegrown extremists who were already in America, a primary concern of federal law enforcement officials. It also omitted Saudi Arabia, home to most of the Sept. 11 hijackers.