A federal judge in Brooklyn blocked part of an executive order that President Donald Trump signed Friday barring visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. The emergency stay, issued Saturday night, temporarily prevents people arriving at U.S. airports with valid visas from being deported.
The ruling, issued by Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, temporarily stalls President Trump’s plan to block visitors — including visa and green card holders — from Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan and Libya for 90 days. The order also suspended the refugee resettlement program for four months.
But on Saturday, Judge Donnelly halted the deportations ruling “there will be substantial and irreparable harm to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order.”
When Judge Donnelly granted the stay, the courtroom erupted in cheers but she immediately shouted “No! No!” and the room returned to silence.
The American Civil Liberties Union estimated that the stay will temporarily spare 100 to 200 people from deportation. After the ruling, ACLU asked if their clients would be put in detention until their status was resolved. U.S. Attorneys seemed not to know. Judge Donnelly said, “If someone is not released, I guess I’ll just hear from you.”
Judge Donnelly ordered the government to provide the ACLU with a list of all the people who were being detained. “That will be hard, there are hundreds of people coming in,” government said.
“Get them a list,” Judge Donnelly responded.
The news of the stay quickly reached Terminal 4 of John F. Kennedy Airport, where protesters and families were gathered, though it wasn’t immediately clear who the decision applied to or if anyone detained would be allowed to leave the airport.
A relative of one of the detainees started crying when she heard the news. “It applies to her,” she said through tears, referring to her family member who was being held by Customs and Border Patrol agents at the airport.
Volunteer lawyers, many corporate or tax attorneys, had been arriving through the day to protest or find people they could help. Junine So, a 27-year-old tax lawyer, said an “emergency call” went out to lawyers in New York who could volunteer to help those detained and their families. Although immigration law isn’t her expertise, she was holding a sign that said “Do you need help?” to offer assistance to people who might need legal aid.
“I’m just canvasing the crowd and directing them to experts,” she said. “Even if it’s not much we can do, it’s better than doing nothing.”