NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A federal judge in Brooklyn issued an emergency order Saturday night, temporarily stopping the United States from deporting people with valid visas under President Donald Trump’s new travel ban.
U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly issued 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 ban took effect. It was unclear how quickly the order might affect people in detention.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the judge’s order means those people will not be deported, but does not necessarily mean they cannot be detained or that they will be allowed to enter the country.
“We’re going to see each of the people, provide council, try to get them out of detention right now,” immigrants rights attorney Lee Gelernt said. “But at minimum, they will not be returned to danger.”
Earlier Saturday afternoon, one Iraqi man who was held overnight at John F. Kennedy International Airport called America “the land of freedom” after being released from custody.
Hameed Khalid Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003 and later as a contract engineer for the U.S.
He was granted permission to relocate to the United States, but was detained along with another traveler from Iraq named Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi after arriving at JFK late Friday night.
Upon his release, Darweesh told a waiting crowd that “America is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world.”
“I support the United States goverment on the other side of the world, but when I came here, they say ‘no,’ and they treat me as if I break the rules or do something wrong,” he said. “I’m surprised.
“I don’t know this policy. I don’t know, he’s a president, I’m just a normal person,” he added.
He also said he was thankful for those who had a hand in his release.
“This is the soul of America. This is what pushed me to move, to leave my country and come here,” he said.
Alshawi was also released Saturday night, according to a tweet from Rep. Jerry Nadler.
Trump signed two more executive actions Saturday and defended his decision to suspend the nation’s refugee program, saying, “it’s not a Muslim ban.”
“You see it at the airports, you see it working out very nicely, and 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters carrying signs and chanting their outrage gathered at JFK Airport when they learned that people with valid visas were being detained.
PHOTOS: Protestors Rally At JFK
“I wanted to show my children the generosity and strength of Americans,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Samantha Liebman.
“It’s against American values,” a man said.
Port Authority police said the AirTrain service was temporarily suspended between the airport and Jamaica Terminal due to crowding, and that free shuttle bus services were being provided as an alternative.
However, a short time later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he ordered the AirTrain service to be restored.
“One of the fundamental rights that is granted to the people of this country is the right to peacefully protest. I have ordered the Port Authority to reverse its decision regarding the JFK AirTrain. I have also directed the MTA and the New York State Police to assist with transportation and security needs to ensure the safety of all those participating,” he said in a statement. “The people of New York will have their voices heard.”
There were also fewer taxi cabs available to passengers, as some drivers showed their support for the protesters.
Lawyers also petitioned a federal court early Saturday to let them go.
“It was an illegal detention, this was a discriminatory order from President Trump, and we will continue to fight for all of the refugees, immigrants and non-immigrants,” said Mark Doss, the supervising attorney for the International Refugee Assistance Project.
Two Democratic U.S. Representatives, Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velazquez, went to the airport to help Darweesh and said they were also working to get at least 10 other detainees released.
“The whole thing is shameful, obviously. These are people who are not a threat to the United States,” Nadler said.
Velazquez was outraged.
“This type of action undermines our national security, and our President Donald Trump doesn’t get it,” she said. “This is not who we are.”
The two lawmakers later issued a joint statement, saying: “This should not happen in America. We shouldn’t have to demand the release of refugees one by one. We must fight this executive order in the streets, in the courts, anywhere, anytime. We must resist. We must fight. We must keep working to keep America the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement Saturday night, saying “President Trump’s executive action against war refugees represents a new low in modern American foreign policy and it is incumbent on us to fight back.”
“I will do everything in my power to help those who have been victimized by President Trump’s discriminatory and dangerous executive action,” the statement read. “My staff has been in contact with lawyers for the detained refugees at JFK Airport and I have directed attorneys in my office to provide whatever legal assistance possible to them.”
Cuomo posted a statement on Twitter Saturday, saying “We are a nation of bridges, not walls.”
“I never thought I’d see the day when refugees who have fled war-torn countries in search of a better life, would be turned away at our doorstep,” he said. “This is not who we are and not who we should be.”
The governor later added that he “directed the Port Authority, the Department of State, and my Counsel’s Office to jointly explore all legal options to assist anyone detained at New York airports, and ensure that their rights are protected.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sent a tweet Saturday night, calling the detentions “shameful.”
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also issued a statement, saying: “Our character, as a city and as a nation, rests on how we treat those who need our help. Turning away or detaining refugees is inhumane. It’s heartbreaking. And it’s not who we are. It’s just plain wrong.”
Trump on Friday temporarily banned entry to the U.S. for all refugees and citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Darweesh and Alshawi was already in flight when Trump’s order was signed.
“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Trump said Friday night.
According to a lawsuit filed by The American Civil Liberties Union, Darweesh had been granted a Special Immigrant Visa on Jan. 20 following a formal two-year vetting process, “as a result of his service to the United States as an interpreter, engineer and contractor,” the complaint said.
Alshawi was granted a Follow to Join Visa on Jan. 11 “to rejoin his wife and son, who were granted refugee status due to their family’s association with the United States military,” according to the complaint.
The complaint said that despite the men’s valid entry documents, U.S. Customs and Border Protection “blocked both Petitioners from exiting JFK Airport and detained Petitioners therein.”
“No magistrate has determined that there is sufficient justification for the continued detention of either Petitioner. Instead, CBP is holding Petitioners at JFK Airport solely pursuant to an executive order issued on January 27, 2017,” court papers said.
The complaint also said that both men were not allowed to meet with their attorneys and when attorneys asked the CBP to speak with their clients, “CBP indicated that they were not the ones to talk to about seeing their client. When the attorneys asked ‘Who is the person to talk to?’ the CBP agents responded, ‘Mr. President. Call Mr. Trump,'” according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, airlines overseas are turning away passengers following Trump’s order.
Qatar Airways is advising passengers bound for the United States from the seven newly banned majority Muslim countries that they need to have either a U.S. green card or diplomatic visa to travel.
A statement on the company’s website says: Nationals of the following countries: Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen — may travel to the U.S. only if they are in possession of a permanent resident card (Green card) or any of the below visas.”
It listed foreign government, United Nations, international organization and NATO visas.
Dutch airline KLM says it has had to turn away seven would-be passengers because they would no longer have been accepted into the United States under President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees.
Manel Vrijenhoek, at KLM’s press office, said the seven were due to fly with KLM from different airports around the world. Vrijenhoek said she had no specifics on their nationalities.
Earlier, airport officials in Cairo said seven U.S.-bound migrants, six from Iraq and one from Yemen, were prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight to JFK airport.
Also Saturday, Trump signed two more executive actions. One includes a five year lobbying ban on administration officials, and the other gives the joint chiefs of staff 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS.
(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)