President Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect on Friday night. Fully vetted refugees who were airborne on flights on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.
Legal challenges and a request for class action certification to release the detained refugees was filed. The complaints were filed by American Civil Liberties Union, the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, the National Immigration Law Center, Yale Law School’s Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and the firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.
Klein Frank is going to join in the effort and provide funding and support to the family of Mr. Alshawi in Houston. If you would like to donate for this effort, please contact Beth Klein Boulder Attorney 303-448-8884
The president’s order also blocks the admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely, and bars entry into the United States for 90 days from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to concerns about terrorism. Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The lawyers said that one of the Iraqis detained at Kennedy Airport, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, had worked on behalf of the United States government in Iraq for 10 years. The other, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, was coming to the United States to join his wife, who had worked for an American contractor, and young son, the lawyers said. They said both men had been detained at the airport on Friday night after arriving on separate flights.
“These are people with valid visas and legitimate refugee claims who have already been determined by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to be admissible and to be allowed to enter the U.S. and now are being unlawfully detained,” Mr. Doss said.
According to the filing, Mr. Darweesh was granted a special immigrant visa on Jan. 20, the same day Mr. Trump was sworn in as president. Mr. Darweesh worked with the United States in Iraq in a variety of jobs — as an interpreter, engineer and contractor — over the course of roughly a decade.
Mr. Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad and Mosul starting shortly after the invasion of Iraq on April 1, 2003. The filing said he had been directly targeted twice for working with the United States military.
Brandon Friedman, who worked with Mr. Darweesh as an infantry lieutenant with the 101st Airborne, praised Mr. Darweesh’s work.
“This is a guy that this country owes a debt of gratitude to,” Mr. Friedman said. “There are not many Americans who have done as much for this country as he has. He’s put himself on the line. He’s put his family on the line to help U.S. soldiers in combat, and it is astonishing to me that this country would suddenly not allow people like that in.”
Mr. Friedman, who is the chief executive of the McPherson Square Group, a communications firm in Washington, added, “We have a moral obligation to protect and repay these people who risked their lives for U.S. troops.”
“He is a brave individual, and he cares about Iraq and he cares about the U.S.,” he said of Mr. Darweesh.
Mr. Alshawi was supposed to be reunited with his wife, who has been living in Texas. The wife, who asked to be identified by her first initial, D., out of concern for her family’s safety, wiped away tears as she sat on a couch in her sister’s house early Saturday in a Houston suburb.
“He gave his package and his passport to an airport officer, and they didn’t talk to him, they just put him in a room,” his wife said. “He told me that they forced him to get back to Iraq. He asked for his lawyer and to apply for an asylum case. And they told him, ‘You can’t do that. You need to go back to your country.’”
She said the authorities at the airport had told him that the president’s signing of the executive order was the reason he could not proceed to Houston.
“They told him it’s the president’s decision,” she said.