Homeland Security: Judge’s stay has little impact on travel ban

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Hear the chants protesters belted out at San Francisco International Airport on behalf of refugees banned under President Trump’s executive order on immigration.
USA TODAY NETWORK

A federal judge’s emergency order halting deportation of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations trapped at U.S. airports will have little impact on the overall implementation of President Trump’s executive order, the Department of Homeland Security said Sunday.

“President Trump’s Executive Orders remain in place — prohibited travel will remain prohibited, and the U.S. government retains its right to revoke visas at any time if required for national security or public safety,” DHS said in a statement. It added: “No foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States.”

The statement noted that “less than one percent of the more than 325,000 international air travelers who arrive every day were inconvenienced” while enhanced security measures were implemented

Earlier, DHS said that by Saturday evening its agents had stopped 109 foreigners at U.S. airports based on Trump’s order and prevented another 173 people from boarding U.S.-bound flights.

Trump himself reaffirmed his decision Sunday on Twitter: “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”

The executive order, signed Friday, suspends the entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, halts admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and bars entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Protesters swarmed major airports across the U.S. In Chicago, thousands of demonstrators gathered at O’Hare International Airport to protest the Trump order. Matt Pryor, a spokesman with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) said more than a dozen people, including several with green cards, were detained at O’Hare International Airport as a result of Trump’s executive order.

In New York, more than 2,000 gathered protesters at John F. Kennedy Airport chanted “let them in!” At Los Angeles International Airport, 200 protesters, who shouted, “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA.”

Dozens of protests were planned across the nation Sunday. At Dulles International Airport outside Washington, immigrant and refugee rights organizations planned a rally at the international arrivals gate to call for a permanent rescinding Trump’s executive order.

“We will not stop until this executive order is cancelled and we arrive at common-sense, immigration reform that takes into account the lives of immigrant and refugee families,” said Michelle LaRue with the advocacy group CASA.

Federal Judge Ann Donnelly on Saturday granted the emergency stay sought by immigrants’ rights lawyers. The judge’s ruling applies to those who have already arrived in the U.S. and those who are in transit who hold valid visas.

A senior Homeland Security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to provide an operational update on Trump’s executive order, said the department quickly overhauled its screening procedures after Trump signed the order Friday. The department issued new guidance to its Customs and Border Protection officers in the field and adjusted its computerized targeting system to identify people who are barred entry through the executive order.

The official said the order allowed legal permanent residents — known as green-card holders — and foreigners who were granted special visas for Iraqi and Afghan interpreters  to enter after undergoing a full background check and in-person interview. The official said 81 people made it through that process and were allowed to enter the country.

In Virginia, another federal judge issued a temporary restraining order Saturday night, directing the Department of Homeland Security to allow lawyers to meet with legal permanent residents detained at Washington Dulles International Airport. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema also forbade Homeland Security from deporting any of the green-card holders for seven days.

“President Trump never gave a second thought to how his discriminatory, un-American order would actually play out on the ground,” Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said after the judge’s ruling. “We will continue to explore any legal options available to the Commonwealth to oppose this misguided effort.”

Karen Tumlin, legal director for the National Immigration Law Center, which was part of the suit in New York, said the lawyers were “tremendously relieved” by the judge’s stay. But she said the legal team was quickly moving to free the immigrants who remained in U.S Customs and Border Protection custody Saturday night based on Trump’s executive order.

She challenged the DHS numbers, calling them “alternative facts.”

“We have 50 Iranian green-card holders being held from one single flight at (Los Angeles International Airport),” Tumlin said. “It doesn’t add up.”

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