A New York federal judge on Saturday barred the U.S. from deporting travelers with valid visas, as protesters at JFK Airport and in downtown Brooklyn rallied against President Trump's executive order to bar U.S. entry by residents of seven Muslim-majority countries.
The protest at JFK lasted into the early-morning hours and was expected to resume on Sunday.
At least a dozen international travelers were detained upon their arrival in New York Saturday, following the order signed by Trump on Friday banning citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days.
Calling the order "unlawful," the American Civil Liberties Union challenged the order in a petition filed in a New York federal court Saturday on behalf of two Iraqis detained at JFK. On Saturday night the court issued a temporary stay that will prevent any detainees from being deported for the time being.
Signed judge's order. No refugees are going to be immediately deported pic.twitter.com/sbfaG7DBt0— ACLU National (@ACLU) January 29, 2017
"What we did tonight was not to ask the judge to resolve the whole case, but to issue a nationwide injunction to prevent the government from removing anybody until she could resolve the case," immigration rights attorney Lee Gelernt told NY1's Grace Rauh. "Otherwise we could have seen people sent back to their countries to danger, maybe death."
Social media posts showed a crowd of protesters at Brooklyn's Cadman Plaza cheering when news of the stay was announced.
The stay, which covers the entire country, awaits further legal review.
Reports say there were at least a hundred detainees at airports across the United States as of Saturday night.
Trump's executive order also bans U.S. entry of those fleeing war-torn Syria indefinitely, and bans the admission of all refugees for the next four months. In signing the order, Trump pledged to "keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America."
The marchers at JFK were joined by protesters at numerous other international airports across the country.
Some New York City taxi drivers joined in the protest by refusing to pick up passengers at JFK.
At least a dozen refugees were being held at the airport as of Saturday evening, but one person was released earlier Saturday.
That man is Hameed Jhalid Darweesh, an Iraqi citizen with a visa who was in Iraq helping U.S. government employees with translation services.
"I have a special immigration visa in my passport, me and my family, because I work with the U.S. government," said Darweesh. "I support the U.S. government from the other side of the world. But when I came here they said nope. They take me as I break the rules or do something wrong. I'm surprised."
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Congressman Jerry Nadler, both Democrats, were able to meet with U.S. Customs officials and get him released.
"How many times do we have to come here to bring justice to an individual who provided assistance to the U.S. government," said Rep. Velazquez. "And that is the main argument against this mean-spirited, ill-conceived, ill-advised executive order."
In a joint statement, Velazquez and Nadler said they were demanding the release of the other refugees.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo also weighed in on social media.
What's happening at JFK is shameful. @NYCImmigrants Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal is on the ground now working to help.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 28, 2017
We are a nation of bridges, not walls. This is not who we are. And not who we should be. pic.twitter.com/ipfjkJtDOk— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 28, 2017
Chants of "let them in" coming from people rallying outside JFK where detainees are being held. pic.twitter.com/KMnXkYsXPC— Mayoral Photo Office (@NYCMayoralPhoto) January 28, 2017