January 29, 2017 10:28 am
A US judge has issued a stay temporarily halting the deportation of visa holders or refugees under an executive order from President Trump.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal case early on Saturday in response to the order.
The judge’s stay prevents those “caught up” in the aftermath from being deported, the ACLU said.
The group estimates that between 100 and 200 people were being detained at airports or in transit.
The court decision came as hundreds protested at airports in several US states over Donald Trump’s clamp down on immigration.
His executive order, signed on Friday, halted the entire US refugee programme and also instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival - even if they held valid visas or other immigration permits.
The ruling, from US District Judge Ann Donnelly, prevented the removal from the US of people with approved refugee applications, valid visas, and “other individuals... legally authorised to enter the United States”.
The emergency ruling also said there was a risk of “substantial and irreparable injury” to those affected.
Lee Gelernt, deputy legal director of the Immigrants Rights Project, argued the case in court and was greeted by a cheering crowd outside.
He said that some people had been threatened with being “put back on a plane” later on Saturday.
“The judge, in a nutshell, saw through what the government was doing and gave us what we wanted, which was to block the Trump order and not allow the government to remove anybody who has come and is caught up in the order, nationwide,” he told the crowd.
He also said the judge had ordered the government to provide a list of names of those detained under the order.