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Judge Blocks Trump Order After Detentions at Airports

As lawmakers joined protests against legal permanent U.S. residents and those with visas or refugee status being detained at U.S. airports, a federal judge issued an emergency stay against President Trump's executive order.

That order, issued Friday, stopped entrance to the United States from a handful of Muslim-majority countries -- Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- and froze the refugee resettlement program.

“It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared. It’s working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office late Saturday afternoon.

Three hours later, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in the Eastern District of New York heard arguments on behalf of two Iraqi men detained at JFK airport: Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who worked for the U.S. military in Iraq, and Haider Sameer Abdulkaleq Alshawi, whose wife did the same and was granted a visa to join his wife and son already here on refugee status.

"Because the executive order is unlawful as applied to petitioners, their continued detention based solely on the executive order violates their Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights," the ACLU, International Refugee Assistance Project, National Immigration Law Center, and The Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization argued in a filing on behalf of the two men, which was expanded to a class-action motion.

The filing says Darweesh, who was granted a special immigrant visa after threats to his life because of a decade of service to the U.S. military and contractors and was trying to travel to Charlotte, was detained in New York and when his attorneys asked Customs and Border Patrol “who is the person to talk to?” about seeing their client the CBP agents responded, “Mr. President. Call Mr. Trump."

Donnelly based her stay of Trump's order on "strong likelihood of success in establishing that the removal of the petitioner and others similarly situated violates their rights to Due Process and Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution" as well as "imminent danger that, absent the stay of removal, there will be substantial and irreparable injury to refugees, visa-holders, and other individuals from nations subject to the January 27, 2017 Executive Order."

There were two more federal cases: In Washington state, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly ordered the government to not deport two unnamed people pending a Feb. 3 hearing. In U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Judge Leonie Brinkema blocked deportations of valid visa-holders for the next seven days and ordered that lawyers be granted access to “all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport."

Reuters reported that state attorneys general in  Pennsylvania, Washington and Hawaii were also determining taking their own legal actions against Trump's order.