DHS Agents Ignoring Halt On Trump Travel Ban, Lawyer Says

LOS ANGELES (CN) – An attorney representing over 200 people fleeing war-torn Yemen says despite an LA federal judge’s order Tuesday lifting part of President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry into the United States by travelers from seven majority-Muslim nations, Homeland Security agents refuse to let her clients board U.S.-bound planes.

U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte issued the order after 28 U.S. citizens filed an emergency motion to bring Yemeni-born residents fleeing the war-torn country to Los Angeles International Airport on valid immigrant visas. Trump signed an executive order barring entry from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen this past weekend.

Birotte’s order also instructs the U.S. Department of State to return the plaintiffs’ passports.

“Defendants are hereby ordered to immediately inform all relevant airport, airline, and other authorities at Los Angeles International Airport and International Airport in Djibouti that plaintiffs are permitted to travel to the United States on their valid immigrant visas,” Birotte’s 5-page order states.

The plaintiffs’ attorney Julie Goldberg said in a phone interview that she represents more than 200 people fleeing Yemen and that she intends to add their names to the lawsuit. They were taken off planes after Trump’s order came down, she said. The State Department revoked valid visas of 28 of her clients after they were issued, she said.

Some of those fleeing were with young children who are United States citizens, the complaint notes. They are “stuck behind in a foreign country because they are traveling with the non-citizen parent who has been banned from entering with their immigrant visa,” the filing states.

With the stroke of a pen, Trump on Jan. 27 sowed confusion by issuing an executive order with the stated intent to protect the “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States.”

Trump ordered a 90-day freeze on entries pending a review and report from the Department of Homeland Security. Trump’s order also bars all refugees from Syria and suspends refugee admissions for 120 days.

The order sparked protests and chaos at airports across the nation. Permanent residents with green cards traveling from the seven countries were initially detained, but Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday said that green card holders could now enter the United States without a waiver.

Opponents of the travel ban have questioned its legality and say it unconstitutionally targets Muslims. But a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 49 percent of respondents support the order. Another 41 percent disagreed, while 10 percent neither agreed nor disagreed.

But only third of respondents said the ban makes them safer.

Nonetheless, Spicer pointed to the polls as evidence that Trump’s ban has the support of a majority of Americans.

“For all the hysteria around the implementation of this order, the American people as a whole are very supportive of the action that the president is taking,” Spicer told reporters Wednesday.

Some of Trump’s fellow Republicans denounced the order as counterproductive. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said Trump issued the order without consulting the State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security departments.

“Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism,” the senators said in a joint statement on Sunday.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has backed “extreme vetting” of refugees but criticized the rollout.

“I think it’s regrettable that there was some confusion on the rollout of this,” Ryan said at a press conference on Tuesday. “No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas, like translators, get caught up in all of this.”

Thousands of protesters descended on LAX on Saturday after Trump signed the order, and volunteer attorneys have shown up to offer counsel and help prevent deportations or detentions.

A New York stayed Trump’s order on Saturday. But reports stated that border agents had ignored the judge’s order.

Speaking from Djibouti, Goldberg said the Department of Homeland Security was refusing to honor Birotte’s court’s order and allow her clients to board their planes.

“As happy as we were with the order today, the fact that it’s not being honored is extremely frustrating,” Goldberg said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Nicole Navas declined to comment.