Refugees who were en route to the United States on Friday when President Donald Trump signed an executive order were detained at airports as soon as they arrived, the New York Times reported.
Travelers with valid visas who had been vetted by State Department and Department of Homeland Security officials and been granted admission to the U.S. were left in legal limbo by the immediate imposition of Friday’s order.
The American Civil Liberties Union, International Refugee Assistance Project, National Immigration Law Center, and several other organizations filed dual complaints over the detention of two Iraqi refugees held at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, according to the Times. The group filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Eastern District of New York to try to have the two clients released, and also filed a motion for class certification to be allowed to represent all refugees and immigrants being detained at U.S. transit hubs.
Trump’s so-called “extreme vetting” order prohibited the arrival of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days and barred entry for citizens from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen for 90 days. Refugees from Syria, which has been devastated by almost six years of civil war, are banned indefinitely under the order.
The lawyers representing the two Iraqis detained at JFK told the Times that one,
Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked for the U.S. government in Iraq for a decade, while the other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had moved to the U.S. to join his wife, who worked for a U.S. contractor.
CNN reported that Darweesh was released from detention Saturday afternoon. A source told CNN that he will be allowed into the U.S. because of a provision in Trump’s executive order permitting the admission of individuals on a case-by-case basis. Those already in transit to the U.S. who do not pose a threat to the country’s security are covered by this provision.
This post has been updated.