Federal judge bars US from removing legal residents detained at Dulles

Protesters gather at Dulles International Airport on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, following President Donald Trump's policy that would suspend the nation's refugee program for four months and indefinitely bar Syrians from entering the country. (WTOP/Dick Uliano)

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Virginia issued a temporary restraining order Saturday barring the Department of Homeland Security from removing 50 to 60 individuals who are legal permanent residents.

On Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement that it will comply with judicial orders. DHS said that less than one percent of international travelers were “inconvenienced” as they went through enhanced security screenings and that these people were being processed for entry into the United States, consistent with immigration laws and orders. It said that the president’s executive orders remain in place.

Just minutes after a New York federal judge issued an emergency order temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from countries under President Donald Trump’s travel ban, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ordered that permanent legal residents detained at Dulles International Airport shall have access to lawyers and that U.S. immigration agencies are forbidden from removing them for seven days from the order’s issuance.

After Brinkema’s order, reports swirled that lawyers were still being denied access to those who were detained at the airport.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that foreign-born U.S. residents who could have been barred from re-entering the United States under Trump’s immigration order have been allowed back into the country.

That’s according to a Department of Homeland Security official who briefed reporters on Saturday night. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss details of the matter.

On Saturday, a crowd chanting, “No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here,” gathered at Dulles to protest Trump’s travel ban.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring were at the airport Saturday. McAuliffe denounced Trump’s order to bar refugees from seven countries — Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

Trump’s order barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States for 90 days. That meant that even those with permanent residency “green cards” or other visas risked not being let back in to the United States.

Rep. Barbara Comstock said that while she supports increased vetting based on national security concerns, she believes it “unconstitutional to ban people from our country on the basis of religion.”

“I find it hard to believe that green card holders — legal permanent residents — were intended to be included in this Executive Order,” Comstock said. “This should be addressed and corrected expeditiously.”

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At a news conference, McAuliffe said the order was “discriminatory” and that it will “breed hatred toward Americans around the globe.” He said that he has asked Herring to look into “all legal remedies” to help people who may be detained.

Herring said that the message sent by Trump’s order is that people of Muslim faith are “somehow less because of their faith.” He said, “That is wrong. That is un-American.”

McAuliffe said that he was concerned about a family with children that was reportedly detained. He said that he wants to know if Virginia families have been affected by the ban.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker arrived at the airport shortly after midnight Sunday to show his support for the protesters.

Around the country, people gathered at airports to protest the travel ban. The Chicago Tribune reported that protesters gathered at O’Hare International Airport after more than a dozen travelers were detained. The Star Tribune reported some 100 people protesting at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport although there were no reports of people detained there. In San Francisco, The Mercury New reported hundreds gathered at San Francisco International Airport as three travelers were detained. And at Kennedy International Airport in New York, The New York Times reported that thousands of protesters spread along the parking apron and on three floors of a parking deck shouting their protests.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

See NBC Washington’s coverage of the news conference:

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