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NYCLU Delivers Update After Immigration Executive Order

Matt Biddulph/Flickr

The New York Civil Liberties Union delivered an update Tuesday afternoon on the status of airport detentions and effects of President Trump’s January 27 executive order barring immigration for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. He also blocked refugees from the country for 120 days.

Donna Lieberman is executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“We call on our elected officials to continue to stand up to Trump and to not lose sight of the Draconian immigration enforcement orders,” Lieberman says.

The ACLU challenged the executive order, which went into effect immediately, and a federal court judge issued a stay, temporarily preventing refugees and immigrants from being deported. Demonstrations broke out at JFK Airport in New York City and elsewhere. NYCLU attorneys say green card holders were detained and weren’t supposed to be. And Lieberman said there are estimates of 50 people having been detained at JFK, but until names are released, numbers are conjecture.

Senior lawyer with NYCLU Mariko Hirose says many of the travelers affected were students trying to return to their universities and employees going back to work. The State University of New York is advising students and faculty to put off making trips to any of the seven Muslim-majority nations included in President Trump's travel ban for immigrants from those countries.  In checking in with NYCLU staff across New York, it was noted that there were no detentions at Albany International Airport. Here’s Hirose.

“And what’s clear is that this is a ban on people of Muslim faith,” Hirose says.

President Trump issued a statement Sunday that says, in part, “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion - this is about terror and keeping our country safe. There are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order.”

Hirose says NYCLU is monitoring the situation and coordinating across the country, doing what they can to help people reunite with their family and friends. Lieberman praised New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who in a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Sunday, demanded that the agencies describe specific steps they are taking to ensure compliance with a federal court’s injunction and restraining order regarding President Trump’s executive order. NYCLU staff say there are reports that the agencies were not complying with the stay order and Schneiderman, a Democrat, asked for a list of individuals detained. Lieberman says her organization has not been given a list of names and, to her knowledge, nor has the attorney general. Meanwhile, Lieberman says the ACLU has seen a surge in donations.

“We need every nickel we’re getting because our work has expanded exponentially in order to take on this unprecedented attack on our liberties,” says Lieberman.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker is lending his support to efforts by Attorney General Maura Healey to explore legal action in response to President Trump's travel ban. And eight of Vermont's mayors are urging President Trump to rescind the executive order.

Copyright 2017 WAMC and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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