Yemenis Trapped by Trump’s Travel Ban Remain in Limbo

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A federal judge has extended through Tuesday a temporary block on President Donald Trump’s travel ban for Yemenis fleeing from their war-torn nation to reunite with their families in the United States.

U.S. District Judge James Otero had three cases on his calendar Friday morning, all filed in the wake of Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order that bans or limits travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

On Thursday, the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco refused to reinstate Trump’s travel ban after U.S. District James Robart of the Western District of Washington had issued a sweeping ruling that barred crucial parts of the president’s order.

From the outset, Otero said that in light of the appellate ruling his hearing would not be “substantive” and largely procedural.

The three cases deal with people affected by the travel ban, including an Iranian man who was allowed to return to the United States after being forced out because of the travel ban; a legal permanent resident who is concerned she will be denied entry if she travels outside the United States; and hundreds of Yemenis fleeing that nation’s civil war.

Attorney Julie Goldberg is representing the children and spouses of hundreds of Yemenis stuck in East Africa since Trump’s ban came down. She told Otero she could yet ask the court to extend the restraining order beyond next Tuesday if she cannot work out an agreement with the government to allow them to enter the United States.

On Jan. 31, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte in Los Angeles issued the restraining order after U.S. citizens filed an emergency motion to bring their Yemeni-born relatives to Los Angeles International Airport on valid immigrant visas.

Birotte also instructed the U.S. Department of State to return the plaintiffs’ passports. The case was transferred to Otero on Feb. 2.

Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Goldberg said some young children are unable to travel to the United States, including a three-year-old girl whose parents had already arrived here.

“When you have children stuck overseas that have been waiting two, three years and have been thoroughly vetted, how much terror is a three-year-old child going to cause?” Goldberg said.

Otero dissolved a temporary restraining order in the case of Ali Vayeghan because he had been permitted to travel and enter the United States last week. But his lawyer Peter Bibring said there is a lingering issue because officials had marked his visa as revoked.

“We want to make sure that the government doesn’t take the position down the road that there’s no lawful basis for his permanent residency – that the visa remains valid,” Bibring said outside the courthouse.

The parties in another case brought by the ACLU, Fatema Farmad v. Donald Trump, include organizations like American Immigration Lawyers Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and the Iranian American Bar Association who say they have legal standing to advance the suit. They will submit a briefing schedule to the court next Friday.


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