The case is being called Darweesh v Trump.
And when a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled in favour of Darweesh, an Iraqi refugee detained for deportation at JFK airport in New York, he instantly became the face of opposition to President Donald Trump’s “Muslim Ban”.
“America is the land of freedom,” said Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who had worked as an interpreter with the US military, without rancour or regret. “This is what took me to come here”. And, he told reporters, he liked Trump.
Darweesh, 53, was among the first refugees detained and marked for deportation under Trump’s Friday order barring all refugees from entering the US for 120 days — indefinitely for Syrians — and all citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days.
There were no estimates available of those impacted by the order here in the United States or abroad. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has said it believes the number of those stranded at US airports could be between 100 and 200.
As the shock and outrage grew, protests broke out across the country. Virginia’s Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe joined protestors at Dulles International Airport, which serves the national capital, Washington DC. “This executive order is antithetical to the values that make America great, and it will make our country less safe, he said in a statement.
Protestors at JFK airport in New York carried signs saying, “No ban, no wall”. The wall was a reference to Trump’s contentious order to contruct a wall along the US border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.
Others carried signs saying, “We are all immigrants”.
Protests were also reported outside airports in Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Denver, Dallas and New Jersey.
New York judge Anne Donnelly’s order staying Darweesh’s deportation — and that of Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshaw, another Iraqi refugee, came as a major relief on Saturday afternoon and crowds gathered outside the Brooklyn courthouse and at airports around the US broke into cheers and applause.
The ACLU which had filed a lawsuit challenging their detention, declared victory. “In President Trump’s First Week, ACLU Hands Him First Stinging Rebuke,” ran a headline on a blog on its website.
More civil rights bodies and Muslims’ organisations, such as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), are planning to challenge the order in courts, test its constitutionality and get it overturned as outrage mounted against it here and abroad.
Seven migrants being brought to the United States by officials of the US refugee agency were prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight from Cairo on Friday night because of the same order barring refugees from entering the US.