What do you think about these migrants? Should they have been detained? They were airborne when the orders were signed and didn’t have time to prepare for this. But then again, this is just to keep everyone safe. Let us know which side you are on.
By Nicholas Kulish and Manny Fernandez
President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect on Friday night. Refugees who were airborne on flights on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.
The detentions prompted legal challenges as lawyers representing two Iraqis held at Kennedy Airport filed a writ of habeas corpus early Saturday in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released. At the same time, they filed a motion for class certification, in an effort to represent all refugees and immigrants who they said were being unlawfully detained at ports of entry.
Mr. Trump’s order, which suspends entry for all refugees for 120 days, created a legal limbo for people on their way to the United States and panic for families who were awaiting their arrival.
The president’s order also blocks the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
It was unclear how many refugees and immigrants were being held nationwide in the aftermath of the executive order. The complaints were filed by a prominent group including the American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.
The lawyers said that one of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for an American contractor, and young son, the lawyers said. They said both men had been detained at the airport on Friday night after arriving on separate flights.
The lawyers said they had not been allowed to meet with their clients, and there were tense moments as they tried to reach them.
“Who is the person we need to talk to?” asked one of the lawyers, Mark Doss, a supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project.
“Mr. President,” said a Customs and Border Protection agent, who declined to identify himself. “Call Mr. Trump.”
The executive order, which Mr. Trump said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.
In the arrivals hall at Terminal 4 of Kennedy Airport, Mr. Doss and two other lawyers fought fatigue as they tried to learn the status of their clients on the other side of the security perimeter.
“We’ve never had an issue once one of our clients was at a port of entry in the United States,” Mr. Doss said. “To see people being detained indefinitely in the country that’s supposed to welcome them is a total shock.”