On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Friday, Jan. 27, President Donald Trump carried out the beginnings of his campaign pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country.
According to the ACLU on this day, Trump began his unconstitutional program of anti-discrimination:
… his executive order suspending all refugee resettlement for 120 days and indefinitely suspending the resettlement of refugees from Syria. In addition to banning Syrian refugees, the president ordered a ban all entries of the nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, for 90 days, and provided that the ban might be extended and that additional countries might be added to that list.
Today, Saturday, Jan. 28, The New York Daily News reported that two Iraqi men arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport were held for over 12 hours. One, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had for years risked his life to work as a translator for U.S. troops in Iraq.
Darweesh was twice targeted by terrorists in his homeland after working as an interpreter for the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division in Mosul and Baghdad following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in April 2003.
Two of his colleagues were murdered by Iraqi terrorists.
“He put his life at risk,” said former Army infantry officer Brandon Friedman, who worked alongside Darweesh. “The guy was fearless. A lot of U.S. soldiers owe their lives to him.”
According to CNN, Darweesh held a special immigrant visa, which he was granted the day of Trump's inauguration on January 20, due to his work for the U.S. government from 2003 to 2013.
The second man is Haider Sameer Abdulkaleq Alshawi, who also has ties to the U.S. military, and who was still being held at JFK as of early Saturday afternoon.
also reported that both men have filed lawsuits:
The lawyers for the two men called for a hearing because they maintain the detention of people with valid visas is illegal.
"Because the executive order is unlawful as applied to petitioners, their continued detention based solely on the executive order violates their Fifth Amendment procedural and substantive due process rights," the lawyers argue in court papers.
Additionally, ProPublica reported that even green card residents returning to America from abroad are affected. An earlier leak had revealed a 30-day ban and was initially publicly discussed:
A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security told Reuters on Saturday morning that the president’s executive order will, in fact, stop green card holders from seven countries from returning to the United States if they travel abroad. “It will bar green card holders,” the spokeswoman said.
But the order signed this afternoon (Jan. 28) by Trump is actually more severe, increasing the ban to 90 days. And its effects could extend well beyond preventing newcomers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, from entering the U.S., lawyers consulted by ProPublica said.
It’s also expected to have substantial effects on hundreds of thousands of people from these countries who already live in the U.S. under green cards or on temporary student or employee visas. Since the order’s travel ban applies to all “aliens” — a term that encompasses anyone who isn’t an American citizen — it could bar those with current visas or even green cards from returning to the U.S. from trips abroad, said Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama.
“It’s extraordinarily cruel,” he said.
A woman who was slated for deportation to Chile at JFK reportedly attempted suicide, according to the New York Daily News.
The Guardian reports that US airports were at the frontline of the Muslim travel ban controversy, as passengers who had flown to the U.S. were held at major airports while others were barred from boarding flights or were pulled off planes overseas.
Rafael, a self-described refugee living in Queens, provided a Working Families Party live feed which had over 6 million views logged as of this writing at 5 p.m. He said families were being torn apart at Terminal 4 as their visas had been nullified by Trump’s executive order.
Global Revolution Live (@GlobalRevLive) tweeted that 13 cities had active protests as of now or planned in the next 24 hours, as of this writing.
Thinkprogress has a list of where the planned protests are taking place.
UPDATE at 9:09 p.m.: MotherJones.com reports:
A federal judge in Brooklyn just issued an emergency stay against the implementation of Donald Trump's executive order banning immigration from certain predominantly Muslim countries, temporarily allowing people who have landed in the United States with a valid visa to remain.
It seems that some steps to restore sanity are being restored, especially in light of a shameful incident that had been committed in 1939, that should make us remember why the U.S. had a policy for nearly 70 years to welcome refugees.
UPDATE at 12 midnight:
Some tweets from immigration lawyers and immigration rights advocates indicate that Customs and Border Protection allegedly is ignoring a federal judge’s suspension of Donald Trump’s executive order and are sending people back.
UPDATE at Jan. 31, 10:52 a.m.:
Trump’s acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, until Jeff Sessions is confirmed, last night urged Department of Justice attorneys to resist Trump’s immigration ban. US UnCut’s headline was “Breaking: Acting Attorney Give Trump Admin Big “F**K YOU Over Muslim Ban.”
“My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right,” Yates wrote in a memo. “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the executive order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the executive order is lawful.”
But only hours later, word was out he had fired and replaced her, as well as the acting director of immigration and customs enforcement, Daniel Ragsdale.
Social media quickly picked up on this Watergate — Nixon-era like development. Wrote CommonDreams, a progressive news portal:
“With a reference to the Saturday Night Massacre that took place during the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon, the hashtag #MondayNightMassacre came alive on Monday night after President Donald Trump fired acting Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and accused her of ‘betrayal’ for refusing to enforce a controversial immigration order targeting Muslims and refugees.”
Ironically, in 2015, Sen. Jeff Sessions – whose own confirmation hearings for attorney general in the new Trump administration have been delayed – asked her this very question during her attorney general confirmation hearings: “Do you think the attorney general has the responsibility to say ‘no’ to the president if he asks for something improper? A lot of people have defended the Lynch nomination, for example, for saying, ‘He’s going to appoint somebody who’s going to execute his views. What’s wrong with that?’ But if the president’s views are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say ‘no’?”
She was confirmed by in the Obama administration, and this answer got her fired.
In essence, Yates has been fired for refusing to violate the Constitution.
Remember, the attorney general does not serve the president, but rather, is sworn to uphold the Constitution and the law.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell describes just how close the nation was to facing a constitutional crisis on Saturday night:
Additionally, the Washington Post reports it is difficult to know how the order is being implemented:
A lawsuit in Virginia asserted that dozens of people may have been forced to give up their green cards by Customs and Border Protection agents, although that figure could not immediately be substantiated. Lawyers in Los Angeles said they had received similar reports, though they were still exploring them.
The ACLU’s Gelernt said that lawyers were “having trouble independently verifying anything because the government will not provide full access to all the detainees.” Of particular concern, he said, was that the government had not turned over a list of detainees, as it had been ordered to do by a federal judge in New York. He said that lawyers might be back in federal court in the next day or so to forcibly get access to it.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations also filed a lawsuit Monday, alleging that the order is meant “to initiate the mass expulsion of immigrant and non-immigrant Muslims lawfully residing in the United States,” according to the Washington Post.