NEW YORK (AP) – An immigration attorney at Kennedy Airport said Saturday that the next hours and days would test a federal judge’s ruling blocking Donald Trump’s executive order barring U.S. entry to travelers from seven mostly Muslim countries.
Camille Mackler, a lawyer with the New York Immigration Coalition, told The Associated Press that she expected a growing number of people to arrive on flights booked after Friday’s ruling by a judge in Washington state – on visas issued before Trump signed his order on Jan. 27.
One of the “big questions” on Saturday, she said, was what will happen to those visas that had been issued before the ban. Are they still valid?
“We were told that they (travelers) would need to reapply, but now that’s unclear,” Mackler said. “We’re not getting clear messaging from the White House on that, or from the Department of Homeland Security.”
“So that’s one thing we’re going to be monitoring very closely; because if they (the visas) were canceled based on an order that was ultimately found to be illegal, or unconstitutional, we don’t feel that those who are suffering from the consequences should have to, on top of everything else, reapply for a visa,” she said.
The federal judge in Washington only temporarily blocked enforcement of Trump’s ban, meaning there may be a small window of time when people could travel to the U.S. Many airlines said they would allow passengers from the seven banned countries to board flights, but could not say whether they could enter the U.S. based on existing visas.
Trump said his administration would comply with that order. Meanwhile, on Saturday night, the Justice Department alerted a court in Washington that it is appealing the judge’s ruling.
“It’s what we expected,” the attorney said. “I’m glad that they’re complying with the order, you know. With this White House, everything seems a little bit unpredictable. But a court order is a court order.”
The appeal is likely to go through the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that spans Washington state, Oregon and California.
“The Ninth Circuit is one of the more liberal circuits, but many of their decisions have been upheld by the (U.S.) Supreme Court,” Mackler said. “There are limits to the president’s authority.”
She said she’s certain that at some point, “somebody will appeal the case to the Supreme Court.”
For now, the Washington state judge’s order “means that they (travelers) can return home, it means they can rejoin their loved ones, it means they are no longer going to be singled out in this arbitrary manner, based on premises that are completely un-American.”
However, she noted, if the Trump administration got a stay of recent rulings by judges in various states, the president’s executive order would then again be in effect.
Speaking for a dozen attorneys monitoring arrivals at JFK Saturday night, Alan Kaplan said that no one under Trump’s ban appeared to have been detained. The lawyers said it was a vast improvement over the high anxiety that filled airports worldwide a week ago as travelers were turned back.
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