US judge orders Trump administration to allow entry to immigrant visa holders

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By Alex Dobuzinskis and Mica Rosenberg | LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK

LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK A federal judge in Los
Angeles has ruled President Donald Trump’s administration must
allow immigrants with initial clearance for legal residency to
enter the United States from seven Muslim-majority nations,
despite an executive order ban.

Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr
follows decisions by federal judges in at least four other
states that also limited the executive order Trump issued on
Friday.

But it goes further, by focusing on a large group of people
from the seven nations of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan,
Syria and Yemen – the countries targeted in the executive order
– who are outside the United States and trying to enter.

In the temporary ruling, Birotte ordered U.S. officials to
refrain from “removing, detaining or blocking the entry of
plaintiffs or any other person … with a valid immigrant visa”
who is arriving from one of the seven nations.

According to the U.S. Department of State, immigrant visas
are the first step to becoming a lawful permanent resident, or a
green card holder.

Birotte’s ruling does not apply to tourists, students or
business travelers with non-immigrant visas.

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the order and
would have no further comment, a spokeswoman for the agency said
in an email.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security cited
its policy of not commenting on pending litigation.

Trump’s executive order has not only caused consternation
for the nations involved but among other Muslim-majority
countries, allies such as Germany and Britain and career State
Department officials.

Attorney Julie Ann Goldberg, who brought the case on behalf
of more than two dozen plaintiffs of Yemeni descent, including
U.S. citizens, said they sought the ruling after learning of a
move by the U.S. State Department to cancel the immigrant visas
of people from the seven countries.

More than 200 people with immigrant visas who left Yemen and
are related to U.S. citizens or legal residents are stranded in
Djibouti across the Bab el-Mandeb Strait from Yemen and were
barred from flying to the United States, Goldberg said by
telephone from Djibouti.

“It’s terrible because I have children here who are without
their parents,” she said.

Some other children in the group are U.S. citizens whose
parents were traveling with immigrant visas, she added.

In Boston, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs on Sunday
issued a ruling, to last seven days, that barred the detention
and removal of approved refugees, visa holders and permanent
U.S. residents who entered from the seven countries.

By early Thursday in Djibouti, Goldberg said, no one from
the group she represented was being allowed to leave for the
United States. She accused the Trump administration of “absolutely ignoring” rulings she believes should allow their
departure.

In an email, a State Department official confirmed the
agency had provisionally revoked “relevant visas as defined”
under Trump’s executive order.

The White House said on Wednesday it has issued updated
guidance on the order clarifying that green card holders require
no waiver to enter the United States.



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