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The New Arab

US judge orders Trump to admit Muslim legal residents

Trump's executive order suspends entry of all refugees to the US [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 February, 2017

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A US judge has ruled Donald Trump's administration must allow immigrants with initial clearance for legal residency to enter the US from seven Muslim-majority nations, despite an executive order ban.
A federal judge in Los Angeles has ordered Donald Trump's administration to allow people holding immigrant visas from seven majority-Muslim nations into the United States, despite the US president's executive order banning them.

In a temporary restraining order issued late on Tuesday, Judge Andre Birotte Jr. ordered the government not to cancel any validly obtained immigrant visas or bar anyone from the seven nations holding them from entering the US.

Birotte's ruling comes on the heels of similar orders issued by judges in several other US states, including New York, Virginia and Washington.

But it was unclear whether the order will have any effect.

The State Department ordered all visas from the seven countries revoked on Friday, and the government has maintained that orders similar to Birotte's do not apply because the visas are no longer valid.

The State Department declined comment on Wednesday on Birotte's order, saying it does not comment on pending litigation.

Trump's executive order suspends entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the US for 90 days

Stacey Gartland, a San Francisco attorney who represents a 12-year-old Yemeni girl whose parents and siblings are US citizens living in California, acknowledged on Wednesday that her client and hundreds of others with immigrant visas still may not be allowed in the US under Birotte's order, but said she's optimistic.

"This court order is a major victory and definitely gives us a path forward," Gartland said. "It's just a matter of getting it into the right hands of someone who'll obey the court order."

Julie Goldberg, the Los Angeles-based immigration lawyer who filed the lawsuit that prompted Birotte's order, is trying to arrange flights for dozens of Yemeni citizens who have immigrant visas and are stranded in the tiny African nation of Djibouti, including the 12-year-old girl Gartland represents.

Gartland said two major airlines have turned them down but they are trying to work with smaller airlines that will follow Birotte's order.

"These are all children, parents and the spouses of US citizens," Goldberg told AP, emphasising that those stranded are not refugees, though Yemen is engulfed in civil war. They received visas last week, she said.

Trump's executive order suspends entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the US for 90 days.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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