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30 Jan 2017

Partial block on Trump ban - Judge acts but broader order still in place

Judge Ann M Donnelly
New York Times News Service and Reuters, TT, Washington, Jan. 29:A federal judge in Brooklyn came to the aid of scores of refugees and others trapped at airports across the US after President Donald Trump's visa curbs on predominantly Muslim countries led to chaotic scenes across the globe.
Judge Ann M. Donnelly, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama, blocked part of Trump's order, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals. But it stopped short of letting them into the country or issuing a broader ruling on the constitutionality of Trump's actions.
A series of more or less similar rulings by federal judges elsewhere in the US followed.
In an indication that the policy is evolving on the fly, the White House chief of staff said people from the affected countries who hold green cards would not be prevented from returning to the US.
But Reince Priebus also said that border agents had "discretionary authority" to detain and question suspicious travellers from certain countries. That statement seemed to add to the uncertainty over how the order will be interpreted and enforced.
Several legal residents of the US who hold valid green cards and approved visas were blocked from boarding planes overseas or detained for hours in American airports.
On Saturday night, Judge Donnelly ruled that carrying out Trump's order by sending the travellers home could cause them "irreparable harm". She said the government was "enjoined and restrained from, in any manner and by any means, removing individuals" who had arrived in the US with valid visas or refugee status.
The judge's one-page ruling came swiftly after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union testified in her courtroom that one of the people detained at an airport was being put on a plane to be deported back to Syria at that very moment.
Lawyers said the judge's decision could affect an estimated 100 to 200 people who were detained at American airports.
There were numerous reports of students attending American universities who were blocked from returning to the US from visits abroad. One student said in a Twitter post that he would be unable to study at Yale.
As a global backlash gathered strength - several long-standing American allies, including Germany and the UK, criticised the measures - Trump fought back.
"Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world - a horrible mess!" Trump tweeted today. "Christians in the Middle East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!"
A broad array of Christian clergy members has strongly denounced Trump's order as discriminatory, misguided and inhumane. Outrage has also come from some of the evangelical, Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders who represent the churches most active in trying to aid persecuted Christians.
In Germany - which has taken in large numbers of people fleeing the Syrian civil war - Chancellor Angela Merkel said the global fight against terrorism was no excuse for Trump's measures and "does not justify putting people of a specific background or faith under general suspicion". She expressed her concerns to Trump during a phone call, her spokesperson said.
Merkel's sentiments were echoed in London. "Divisive and wrong to stigmatise because of nationality," British foreign minister Boris Johnson tweeted.

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