Five different federal court judges rushed into court around the nation to issue separate orders slapping down parts of President Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” executive order. Considering how fast these cases are moving, you might have lost track. So we’ve broken them down for you.
Overall, the judges agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal groups that filed suit that the federal government was unlawfully detaining and deporting people from U.S. airports even though the travelers had valid U.S. visas or permanent U.S. residency, known as green cards.
The flurry of separate lawsuits were filed after the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents began detaining and deporting travelers at U.S. airports arriving from Iraq, Iran, and five other countries, even though they had valid visas, green cards, or approved refugee status.
The Trump Administration lawyers argued that the government was required to block travelers from seven countries due to President Trump’s executive order signed late Friday barring travel to the United States by persons from seven countries with Muslim-majority populations and listed by the U.S. government as harboring terrorists. The “banned” countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
The Brooklyn and Boston orders are styled as national orders whereas the other three orders provide relief for individual petitioners.
The judges issued temporary restraining orders and will hold more hearings in February to decide whether to make the temporary orders permanent. One reason for the separate lawsuits is that the federal government argued that the orders issued by the individual district judges in Brooklyn and Boston were not binding nationwide and continued to detain visa holders and persons with permanent legal residency at other airports.
None of these orders provide any relief to the people with valid visas, legal residency, or approved refugee status who have not yet attempted to travel to the United States. Nor do the orders provide any final decision on various legal challenges that seek to permanently limit or strike down President Trump’s executive order based on constitutional or other legal challenges.
But, nonetheless, in case you are lost, here is a wrap-up of the orders and related lawsuits.
- The Brooklyn Case
U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn) issued an order on Saturday banning customs officials from deporting or detaining anyone who had arrived in the United States with valid visas, lawful permanent residency, or approved refugee status.
The order in Darweesh v. Trump is worded as a nationwide order.
The lawsuit was brought by the ACLU and other groups as a class action habeas corpus lawsuit arguing that federal customs agents were unlawfully detaining travelers from the seven banned countries even though the U.S. government had already issued the travelers valid visas, green cards, or approved their refugee status.
Judge Donnelly ruled that the petitioners had “established a strong likelihood of success” of winning their argument that the travelers were being detained in violation of their due process and equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- The Boston Case
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs and U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Gail Dein of the District of Massachusetts (Boston) co-signed an order over the weekend stopping deportation not only of two college professors, but also ordered the government to stop blocking deportation of others “similarly situated.”
Like the Brooklyn court order, the Boston order Tootkaboni v. Trump, is fashioned as a nationwide order.
The case was brought on behalf of Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam, Iranian nationals and Muslims and associate professors at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth. They are both lawful permanent residents of the United States.
The pair were returning from an overseas academic country when they were detained at Logan Airport.
- The Los Angeles Cases
U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California (Los Angeles) issued an order on Sunday requiring the government to return an Iranian man who had been deported to Dubai even though he arrived at the Los Angeles Airport with a valid visa.
Ali Khoshbakhti Vayeghan said he was being threatened with deportation to his native Iran. The case, Vayeghan v. Trump, will return to court for the next hearing on February 10.
The ALU filed a second lawsuit on behalf of two Iranian-born women who were being detained at LAX despite their status as legal U.S. residents. The women contended in Farmad v. Trump that their detention violated the First Amendment’s protection against government establishment of religion, among other violations of the constitution and U.S. laws.
The women said that even though the Brooklyn judge issued a nationwide order on Saturday banning deportations of all persons with green cards, border agents at LAX asked the women to sign forms abandoning their legal permanent resident status. Fatema Farmad is due to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen on Feb. 13 and Marzieh Moosavizadeh Yazdi, 72, is in poor health. The women were returning from visiting family in Iran.
The women were released before the case was heard in court.
The ACLU and other legal groups brought a third lawsuit on Sunday, Azad v. Trump, seeking protection for a class of people with legal residency who are being detained at LAX. The petitioners in that case were also released before the case was heard by a judge.
- The Virginia Case
On Saturday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria) issued an order barring the government from deporting green card holders from Dulles Airport.
The court in Aziz v. Trump also ordered customs officials to allow green card holders to talk to attorney at Dulles.
Unlike the Brooklyn and Boston orders, Judge Brinkema’s ruling is limited to green card holders from the seven banned countries currently at Dulles Airport and does not include travelers with U.S. visas.
Seeking to broaden the case, the Legal Aid Justice Center of Virginia filed an amended lawsuit Monday, alleging that the two Yemeni brothers named in the lawsuit had been handcuffed and coerced into signing away their visas and forced to fly to Ethiopia.
The amended lawsuit alleges that as many as 60 other people stopped at Dulles were “unlawfully compelled” to relinquish their visas or green cards.
The case is a class action lawsuit on behalf of both green card holders and immigrants with visas, and seeks much broader relief that the limited order issued by Judge Brinkema over the weekend.
The complaint seeks not only the the reinstatement of the Yemeni brothers’ visas, their return, and their admission into the United States, but also an injunction barring the government from detaining the petitioners named in the lawsuit and any other unnamed persons “similarly situated” who may be denied admission to the United States “solely on the basis” of President Trump’s executive order.
- The Seattle Case
U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly of the Western District of Washington (Seattle) issued an emergency order over the weekend barring the removal of two unnamed petitioners in Doe v. Trump.
Meanwhile, a new lawsuit was filed against Trump on Monday in Virginia by the Committee on American-Islamic Relations.
The CAIR lawsuit, Sarsour v. Trump, alleges that the president’s executive order is an “Muslim Exclusion Order” that violates the First Amendment ban on the government establishment of religion, known as the Establishment Clause, as well as the Fifth Amendment and other laws.
The lawsuit alleges that the executive order “does not apply to all Muslims, the policy only applies to Muslims.”
The CAIR lawsuit seeks to guarantee the right of U.S. citizens and non-citizens lawfully residing in the United States who are originally from the seven countries to travel internationally without being blocked from returning to the United States based on the executive order, among other things.
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