Saturday, January 28, 2017

Refugees Detained at U.S. Airports, Prompting Legal Challenges to Trump's Immigration Order

I'm surprised green card holders are being detained, since they have a legal right to be here. (See Glenn Reynolds on that, "WELL, THIS IS STUPID: DHS Spox: Trump Muslim Ban Includes Green Card Holders.")

Honestly, though, I'm not all shaken up by this. See the long stream of articles at Memeorandum, including the New York Times.

And from Matt Pearce, via Twitter, linking the L.A. Times, "Confusion and consternation as new 'extreme vetting' policy blocks travel from several Muslim-majority countries":

President Trump’s executive order suspending refugee arrivals and banning travel to the United States from several Muslim-majority countries spawned chaos and consternation across the globe Saturday, igniting legal challenges, trapping unwitting airline passengers and galvanizing anguished questions about core American values.

The abrupt ban ensnared people from all walks of life who were caught in transit or expecting to soon return to the U.S. — not only refugees but students on a break from studies, business travelers, tourists, concert musicians, even the bereaved who had gone home for funerals.

A group of advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a legal action against the policy on Saturday in New York, acting on behalf of two Iraqis who were stopped at John F. Kennedy Airport hours after the order was signed. The writ seeks the release of the two Iraqis, who held valid U.S. visas, unless the government can show lawful grounds for their detention.

One of the two detained Iraqis, Hameed Khalid Darwish, was an interpreter who had worked on behalf of the American government. Freed after 19 hours in custody, he wept as he spoke to reporters, thanking supporters and calling America “the land of freedom, the land of rights.”

The groups bringing the legal action, who also included the International Refugee Assistance Project and the National Immigration Law Center, said a separate motion sets the stage for a larger action involving other would-be refugees, visitors and immigrants stopped at other ports of entry.

“We’ll see you in court, Mr. Trump,” tweeted the ACLU’s national legal director, David Cole, after the writ was filed.

Arab American advocacy groups also were reacting to the new order, warning that it was disrupting travel all over the world.

“We see complete chaos in the way this has been implemented. … Individuals overseas have not been able to board airplanes and fly back into the United States,” Abed A. Ayoub, legal and policy director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said in a conference call with reporters Saturday morning.

This is tearing apart families. We have students overseas stuck there who can’t get back. We have students abroad who cannot return here at all,” he said.

Another legal challenge was in the works as well. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, said it would file a federal lawsuit on behalf of more than 20 individuals challenging the order. The suit, to be filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Virginia, argues that the executive order is unconstitutional because of its apparent aim of singling out Muslims.

“There is no evidence that refugees — the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation — are a threat to national security,” the group’s national litigation director, Lena F. Masri, said in a statement. “This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”

The order, signed Friday by the president during a visit to the Pentagon, suspends all refugee entries for 120 days. In addition, it indefinitely blocks Syrian refugees, and bars entry to the U.S. for 90 days for those traveling from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Prominent Muslim figures raised their voices in opposition to the temporary refugee ban, saying children would be among those suffering the most from it. Nobel peace laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban, said in a statement that she was “heartbroken” that Trump was closing the door on “children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war.”

On Saturday, the Department of Homeland Security said the travel ban covered holders of green cards, who are authorized to live and work in the U.S. Some reports have put the number of such permanent residents from the affected countries as high as half a million.

An administration official eventually said that current green card holders from the affected countries would be allowed to remain in the U.S. — but that those caught outside the country at the time of the ban’s imposition would have be allowed back in on a case-by-case basis. Those with business overseas will have to meet beforehand with a consular official.

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter on Saturday to praise the directive, calling the president “a man of action and impact.”

“Promises made, promises kept,” she tweeted. “Shock to the system. And he’s just getting started.”