By Miriam Raftery
Protest planned at 5 p.m. tonight at Lindbergh Field; immigrant attorneys warn demonstrators could be detained, caution non-citizens not to participate due to “grave” risks
January 29, 2017 (San Diego)—Multiple federal courts have issued orders temporarily blocking deportation of legal residents detained at airports following President Trump’s executive order Friday, including a New York federal judge ruling on an ACLU suit that applies nationwide. While some remain detained and denied access to counsel per the ACLU, others were allowed to meet with immigration attorneys and were soon set free at airports across the U.S., where large crowds gathered and greeted the arriving immigrants with cheers to welcome them to America (View video).
The court orders thus far protect only those already at U.S. airports or in transit. Other lawsuits are set to be filed Monday by civil rights and Arab-American groups seeking to overturn as unconstitutional the broader ban on admitting refugees as from seven mostly Muslim nations (Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Syria, Libya and Yemen) listed as countries of concern by the State Department.
The order also applies to an estimated half million legal U.S. residents with green cards from those countries, as well as people who hold dual citizen in any of the seven nations as well as citizenship in U.S. ally nations including Canada and Great Britain.
Thousands converged on airports in numerous cities to protest the detention of even legal residents including returning students, business people and those visiting family or attending funerals abroad. In New York, cab drivers refused to pick up fares as crowds in support of the refugees, immigrants and legal residents with green cards swelled.
Despite massive protests, lawsuits, and multiple court rulings against his administration’s order, Trump insisted in media interviews that his order is working out “very nicely,” adding “You see it at the airports, you see it all over,” apparently either oblivious or unconcerned about the fear and chaos experienced by travelers, airport personnel, U.S. allies, governors and other officials scrambling to understand and react to the executive order that included no grace period or briefings for those left to deal with the consequences.
Homeland Security officials insist that while the court orders will be obeyed, the rest of the directives will remain in force, barring Syrian refugees indefinitely, all refugees for at least 120 days, and immigrants from seven nations for at least 90 days pending more “extreme vetting.”
Canada’s Prime Minster has issued a statement saying Canada will welcome refugees and immigrants refused by the U.S. under Trump’s order. Some immigration attorneys are now advising clients to apply for asylum in Canada.
A second protest against the “Muslim ban” at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field is planned for tonight from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., However the Facebook page warns ominously that protesters could face detention with immediate access to legal counsel and should let family or friends know to check on them. The page also cautions that immigration attorneys advise non-citizens to avoid the protest, even legal residents with green cards, due to “grave” risks. As of 4 p.m., 1,300 have RSVP'd that they plan to join the protest.
Reactions to Trump’s action has been overwhelmingly negative, with even many prominent Republicans voicing concerns about some or all of the order.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sent a press release today characterizing the order as “unjust and anti-American.” But he said, “Justice in America doesn’t live or die on the stroke of one man’s pen regardless of how high his office.” Becerra said he has conferred with his legal team and others, adding, “We will use every tool within our authority to offer victims of the Trump Administration’s overreach a fighting chance to overcome but another cruel barrier to their flight for freedom. The Trump executive order shoud not stand and must be confronted as a constitutional overreach.”
Republican Senator John McCain, on Face the Nation, faulted the administration for failing to alert customs and airport officials, as well as U.S. allies in other nations, where chaos has ensued with many people prevented from boarding international flights.
“I am very concerned about those interpreters whose lives are at stake,” he said of individuals who helped the U.S. military in Iraq, one of whom was detained in New York upon arrival but later freed after a judge granted the ACLU order for a temporary stay until the case can be heard. McCain noted that with the battle of Mosul raging in Iraq against ISIS forces “the effect will probably in some areas give ISIS more propaganda…”
ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero observed, “Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country.”
Tens or even hundreds of millions more are impacted by the ban on refugees from seven nations. Though Trump claimed this was to combat terrorism, he did not ban refugees or immigrants from several nations linked to terrorist groups , including Saudi Arabia, home to 15 of the 911 terrorists. All Muslim nations exempted are countries where Trump has hotels or golf courses, raising serious conflict of interest concerns.
On Saturday, prominent Democratic leaders joined protesters at airports. Famed civil rights leader John Lewis spent over five hours at an airport and announced he would not leave until those detained were freed.
On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) fought back tears as he announced that Democrats would introduce legislation to stop the order, though it will require substantial Republican support to pass since Republicans control both Ho7use and Senate. Schumer called the order “mean-spirited and un-American," joined by refugees at a news conference in New York. He called the refugees “the promise of America."
All Democratic lawmakers have been invited to an event in front of the Supreme Court Monday evening to show solidarity with legal efforts to block Trump’s travel ban. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut says he will introduce a bill to overturn Trump's order by forcing him to comply with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act, which banned discrimination against immigrants on the basis of national origin.
"I think ultimately this ban will be struck down by the courts, but we need to put legislation on the table that Republicans could support, that overturns the ban," Murphy said, adding, that Trump. “put no thought into how it was drafted or how it would be implemented is incredibly dangerous," the Chicago Tribune reports.
“It is outrageous that the President’s `Trump First’ policy appears to be targeting countries that don’ t do business with him, and rewarding those that do,” Josh Silver, director of the nonpartisan anti-corruption group Represent.Us stated in a press release today. “At worst, it is illegal. At best, it appears corrupt,” he added.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban for opposing injustice, issued a statement saying she was “heartbroken” that Trump was barring entry to “children, mothers and fathers fleeing violence and war.”
The United Nations issued a statement calling for refugees to receive “equal treatment” for resettlement and other help “regardless of their religion, nationality or race.”
High-tech companies have objected to the executive order, including Google, which has 100 workers traveling abroad who are affected by the sudden order.
Republican Congrsesman Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania called the presidential order “rushed through” and “ridiculous,” adding, “there are many, many nuances of immigration policy that can be life or death for many innocent, vulnerable people around the world.”
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the Senate’s most senior Republican, noted that Mormons were once persecuted minorities and that his ancestors were “refugees driven from their homes.” USA Today reports Hatch stated, “I strongly urge the new administration to move quickly to tailor its policy on visa issuance as narrowly as possible, delivering on our security needs while reducing unnecessary burdens on the vast majority of visa-seekers that present a promise—not a threat—to our nation.
Congressman Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, tweeted that the order “undermines” the Constitution by ganning immigrants on the basis of nationality, adding, “If the president wants to change immigration law, he must work with Congress.”
The President has claimed his ban is not anti-Muslim, even though he told a Christian broadcasting station he intends to give priority and make exceptions to the ban for persecuted Christians.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told ABC on “This Week” that he supports more vetting but added, “I think we need to be careful. We don’t have religious tests in this country.”
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan backed Trump’s executive order barring immigrants from Muslim nations, tacitly backing the President in an apparent flip-flop, saying now that he supports strengthening the visa vetting process. He added Friday, “President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country.”
But back in December 2015 a t the Republican National Convention, Ryan said Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim refugees “is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for,” noting that “Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle.”
But Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s spokeswoman, insisted that having returning legal residents detained indefinitely is “small price to pay” for security.