A federal judge in New York has issued an emergency stay temporarily halting the removal of individuals detained after President Trump issued an order to ban immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
The move appears to mark the first successful legal challenge to the Trump administration and affects those who have arrived in the U.S. with previously approved refugee applications or were in transit with valid visas.
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly ruled in favor of a habeas corpus petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of two Iraqi men who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday after Trump signed his order.
Donnelly, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama and confirmed to her judgeship in 2015, ruled in the Eastern District of New York that “there is 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 Trump’s order.
“This ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
The ruling deals with a portion of Trump’s order handed down Friday, which bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and halts the resettlement of all refugees for four months as the administration reviews the vetting process.
Trump’s order said that admission will resume only after vetting has been deemed “adequate” by the secretary of State, the secretary of Homeland Security and Director of National Intelligence.
The order also denies entry for 90 days for individuals from seven predominantly Muslims countries: Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Libya and Yemen.
“Clearly the judge understood the possibility for irreparable harm to hundreds of immigrants and lawful visitors to this country,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement.
“Our courts today worked as they should as bulwarks against government abuse or unconstitutional policies and orders. On week one, Donald Trump suffered his first loss in court.”