Politics

Arrivals to US blocked and detained as Trump's immigration freeze sets in

President Donald Trump signs executive orders in the Hall of Heroes at the Department of Defense on January 27, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.
President Donald Trump signs executive orders in the Hall of Heroes at the Department of Defense on January 27, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia.
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Updated at 12:48 p.m. ET

One day after President Trump signed executive order halting the admittance of all refugees to the United States, and temporarily freezing immigration from seven mostly Muslim countries, the effects of that freeze are already beginning to be seen at airports both in the U.S. and abroad.

Several Iraqi refugees in Cairo, who had been cleared for resettlement in the U.S., have been blocked from boarding their flight to New York City. And in Iraq, NPR's Jane Arraf reports that "members of Yazidi minority, one of the biggest victims of ISIS, were prevented from boarding despite having visas."

Meanwhile, two Iraqi men were detained at Kennedy Airport in New York. The ACLU and other legal organizations filed a writ of habeas corpus for the two men Saturday in an attempt to obtain their clients' release.

One of those men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, was later released from detention on Saturday, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler tweeted.

Both Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi had been granted U.S. visas after the federal government "deemed both Petitioners not to pose threats to the United States," the court filing reads. The filing says both men are being held at the airport by Customs and Border Protection "solely pursuant to an executive order issued" Friday.

ACLU attorney Cecilia Wang tells NPR that Darweesh had arrived with his wife and child, but that he was held behind as his family was permitted to proceed. For his part, Alshawi's wife and child live in Houston with green cards, Wang says.

Brandon Friedman, a U.S. Army veteran and former Obama administration official, explains to NPR's Scott Simon that Darweesh worked with him as a translator during his service in Iraq. Darweesh was "approved for a special immigrant visa, given for his time and service to the U.S. government," Friedman says.

Late Friday, Friedman began tweeting about his opposition to Trump's order, as well as a photo showing a pair of men he said helped his team and were "no longer welcome in the U.S."

"Hameed was one of the first people to sign up to work with us. He helped interpret, he hooked us up with things that we needed and helped us generally get through the communities that we were operating in in Iraq," Friedman tells Simon. "And he put his life on the line. He risked his family's life to do that."

News of both sets of detainments follows on the heels of Trump's Friday order, which also halted all refugee admission to the U.S. Trump's freeze on immigration applies not only to people from Iraq and Yemen, but also Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Sudan.

"Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter our country," the executive order reads.

NPR's Scott Horsley explains further:

 

 

"The order shuts the door to all refugees for four months and suspends entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely. It shrinks the overall refugee program by more than half. Trump told a Christian broadcaster that preference will be given to Christian refugees from the Middle East."

 

 

As NPR's Greg Myre reports, "It doesn't include any countries from which radicalized Muslims have actually killed Americans in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001."

Greg notes that the countries of origin of radicalized Muslims who have killed Americans on U.S. soil, beginning on Sept. 11, are instead Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Russia, United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

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