It is estimated that up to 200 people are being detained at American airports and in transist around the world as a result of Donald Trump’s travel ban orders.
A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency order temporarily barring the deportation of people from countries included in Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying detained travellers have a strong argument that their legal rights have been violated.
US district judge Ann Donnelly made the 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 president’s ban took effect.
Her order affected only a portion of Mr Trump’s executive action, with the three-page ruling saying without the stay “there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27 2017 executive order”.
The order barred US border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the US with a valid visa from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen and also covered anyone with an approved refugee application.
Cheers broke out in a crowd of demonstrators outside a Brooklyn court as her decision, effective nationwide, was announced.
“There is no evidence that refugees – the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation – are a threat to national security,” said Lena Masri, national litigation director for The Council on American-Islamic Relations. The organisation said it would challenge the constitutionality of Mr Trump’s order.
“This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”
Under the Trump order, it appeared that an untold number of foreign-born US residents now travelling outside the country could be stuck overseas for at least 90 days even though they held permanent residency “green cards” or other visas.
Mr Trump billed his sweeping executive order as a necessary step to stop “radical Islamic terrorists” from coming to the US.
Included is a 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the US refugee programme.
The order singled out Syrians for the most aggressive ban, indefinitely blocking entry for anyone from that country, including those fleeing civil war.
Mr Trump told reporters on Saturday the order was “not a Muslim ban” and “It’s working out very nicely”.
“We’re going to have a very, very strict ban and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”
The directive did not do anything to prevent attacks from home-grown extremists who were already in America, a primary concern of national law enforcement and it also omitted Saudi Arabia, home to most of the September 11 2001 hijackers.
A Department of Homeland Security official said no green-card holders from the seven countries named in the order had been prevented from entering the US.
The order sparked protests at several US airports, including New York’s Kennedy and Chicago’s O’Hare and those in Minneapolis and Dallas-Forth Worth.
The Department of Homeland Security said the court ruling would not affect the overall implementation of the White House order and affected a relatively small number of travellers inconvenienced by security procedures.
Politicians in the US and around the world also criticised the move.
Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said: “If we send a signal to the Middle East that the US sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion.
“Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom.”
In Tehran, foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran would stop issuing new visas to US citizens in response to Mr Trump’s ban, but anyone already with a visa to Iran would not be turned away.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter that refugees were welcome in Canada “regardless of your faith”.
The government can exempt foreign nationals from the ban if their entry is deemed in the national interest, but it was not immediately clear how that exemption might be applied.
Diplomats from the seven countries singled out by Mr Trump’s order would still be allowed into the US.
Those already in the US with a visa or green card would be allowed to stay, according to the homeland security official.
There was support for Mr Trump from some Republicans.
“We are a compassionate nation and a country of immigrants. But as we know, terrorists are dead set on using our immigration and refugee programmes as a Trojan Horse to attack us,” House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee chairman Michael McCaul said.
“With the stroke of a pen, he is doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last administration did in eight years.”
A spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel says the German leader believes the travel ban is wrong.
Germany’s dpa news agency quoted Mrs Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert as saying that “she is convinced that even the necessary, resolute fight against terrorism doesn’t justify putting people of a particular origin or particular faith under general suspicion”.
Mrs Merkel and Mr Trump spoke by phone on Saturday for the first time since his inauguration.