Trump

President Donald Trump, left, with Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, watching, explains the executive action on extreme vetting that he is about to sign at the Pentagon in Washington, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two federal courts ruled late Saturday against part of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim nations from entering the United States.

A federal court in Brooklyn granted a nationwide stay preventing the government from deporting people who arrived with valid U.S. visas. “Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country,” said Judge Ann Donnelly of the Eastern District of New York.

A second judge, in Virginia, issued a temporary restraining order preventing the deportation of permanent U.S. residents who arrived at Dulles International Airport outside Washington. U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia also ruled that the detained passengers must be given access to attorneys.

Donnelly granted the stay after an emergency hearing in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of two men who had been detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. The men were later released.

The ACLU, other civil rights groups and hundreds of protesters at U.S. airports cheered the decision, though they cautioned that the reprieve is temporary and affects only visa holders who already had arrived in the United States and were being held at airports. While it prevents them from being deported, the ruling stops short of ordering their release, raising concerns among attorneys about an extended detention as the arrivals wait in limbo for a permanent decision in the case.

The ACLU estimates that between 100 and 200 people are being held in U.S. airports because of Trump’s executive order, which upended thousands of lives overnight, including permanent U.S. residents who were denied entry or stranded abroad over the weekend.

Outraged families and advocacy groups publicized cases of visa holders and permanent residents, including some who have held green cards for decades, being detained at airports or barred from entering the United States, including at least 50 who were being held at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

Angry, confused and frustrated family members who had been waiting for loved ones chanted “This is what democracy looks like” and held signs that read “Release our Family!” and “Deport Trump!!” in the international area of the Dallas airport’s Terminal D. Federal officials would not confirm the number of people being detained, and airport officials declined to comment.

Large crowds of protesters also gathered outside JFK airport in New York after word circulated that two Iraqis had been detained. Airports in San Francisco and a few other cities drew similar demonstrations.

The order barred U.S. border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the U.S. with a valid visa from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. It also covered anyone with an approved refugee application.

It was unclear how quickly the order might affect people in detention.

Under Trump's order, it had appeared that an untold number of foreign-born U.S. residents now traveling outside the U.S. could be stuck overseas for at least 90 days even though they held permanent residency "green cards" or other visas. However, an official with the Department of Homeland Security said Saturday night that no green-card holders from the seven countries cited in Trump's order had been prevented from entering the U.S.

Some foreign nationals who were allowed to board flights before the order was signed Friday had been detained at U.S. airports, told they were no longer welcome. The DHS official who briefed reporters by phone said 109 people who were in transit on airplanes had been denied entry and 173 had not been allowed to get on their planes overseas.

Trump billed his sweeping executive order as a necessary step to stop "radical Islamic terrorists" from coming to the U.S. Included is a 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen and a 120-day suspension of the U.S. refugee program.

Trump's order singled out Syrians for the most aggressive ban, indefinitely blocking entry for anyone from that country, including those fleeing civil war.

The directive did not do anything to prevent attacks from homegrown extremists who were already in America, a primary concern of federal law enforcement officials. It also omitted Saudi Arabia, home to most of the Sept. 11 hijackers.

As a candidate Trump pledged to temporarily ban Muslims from coming to the U.S., then said he would implement "extreme vetting" for people from countries with significant terror concerns.

Trump told reporters Saturday the order is "not a Muslim ban."

"It's working out very nicely," Trump said of the implementation of his order. "We're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years."

The order sparked protests at several of the nation's international airports, including New York's Kennedy and Chicago's O'Hare and facilities in Minneapolis and Dallas-Forth Worth. In San Francisco, hundreds blocked the street outside the arrival area of the international terminal. Several dozen demonstrated at the airport in Portland, Oregon, briefly disrupting light rail service while hoisting signs that read "Portland Coffee Is From Yemen" and chanting anti-Trump slogans. Among the dozens showing support for refugees at Denver's airport were those who sang "refugees are welcome here."

U.S. lawmakers and officials around the globe also criticized the move. U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said while Trump is right to focus on border security, the order is "too broad."

"If we send a signal to the Middle East that the U.S. sees all Muslims as jihadis, the terrorist recruiters win by telling kids that America is banning Muslims and that this is America versus one religion," Sasse said. "Our generational fight against jihadism requires wisdom."

In Tehran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran would stop issuing new visas to U.S. citizens in response to Trump's ban, but that anyone already with a visa to Iran wouldn't be turned away.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to Twitter Saturday afternoon to say that refugees were welcome in Canada, "regardless of your faith."

Two of the first people blocked from entering the United States were Iraqis with links to the U.S. military.

Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi were detained by immigration officials after landing at New York's Kennedy airport Friday night. Both had been released by Saturday night after their lawyers intervened.

Darweesh had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003 and later worked as a contract engineer. In their court filing, his lawyers said Alshawai's wife had worked for a U.S. security contractor in Iraq. Members of her family had been killed by insurgents because of their association with the U.S. military.

The government can exempt foreign nationals from the ban if their entry is deemed in the national interest. But it was not immediately clear how that exemption might be applied.

Diplomats from the seven countries singled out by Trump's order would still be allowed into the U.S.

Those already in the U.S. with a visa or green card would be allowed to stay, according to the official, who wasn't authorized to publicly discuss the details of how Trump's order was being put in place and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Trump's order also directed U.S. officials to review information as needed to fully vet foreigners asking to come to the U.S. and draft a list of countries that don't provide that information. That left open the possibility that citizens of other countries could also face a travel ban.

The U.S. may still admit refugees on a case-by-case basis during the freeze, and the government would continue to process requests from people claiming religious persecution, "provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would challenge the constitutionality of Trump's order.

"There is no evidence that refugees the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation are a threat to national security," said Lena F. Masri, the group's national litigation director. "This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality."

John Cohen, a former Department of Homeland Security counterterrorism official who worked under Democratic and Republican administrations, said the order didn't address America's "primary terrorism-related threat" people already in the U.S. who become inspired by what they see on the internet.

Trump's order drew support from some Republican lawmakers who have urged more security measures for the refugee vetting program, particularly for those from Syria.

"We are a compassionate nation and a country of immigrants. But as we know, terrorists are dead set on using our immigration and refugee programs as a Trojan Horse to attack us," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul said in a statement Friday. "With the stroke of a pen, he is doing more to shut down terrorist pathways into this country than the last administration did in eight years."

It is unclear how many people would be immediately impacted by the non-refugee travel ban. According to the statistics maintained by the Homeland Security Department, about 17,000 students from the seven designated countries were allowed into the U.S. for the 2015-2016 school year. In 2015 more than 86,000 people from those countries arrived in the U.S. on other, non-immigrant visas and more than 52,000 others became legal permanent residents.

Last year the U.S. resettled 85,000 people displaced by war, political oppression, hunger and religious prejudice, including more than 12,000 Syrians. Before leaving office President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would accept 110,000 refugees in the coming year, but Trump's order cut that by more than half to 50,000.

No refugees were in the air when the travel ban was signed Friday, but about 350 people were in transit in Nairobi, Kenya, and were now stuck there, said Melanie Nezer, vice president of policy and advocacy for HIAS, a refugee resettlement aid agency. She said several hundred more people who were booked on U.S.-bound flights in the next week were now stranded around the globe.

"This in effect could be a permanent ban," she said. "Many of these people may never be able to come."

This report includes material from the McClatchy Washington Bureau.

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