WASHINGTON – A US judge has issued a stay temporarily halting the deportation of visa holders or refugees under an executive order from President Trump.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a legal case early on Saturday in response to the order.
The judge’s stay prevents those “caught up” in the aftermath from being deported, the ACLU said.
The group estimates that between 100 and 200 people were being detained at airports or in transit.
The court decision came as thousands protested at airports in several US states over Donald Trump’s clamp down on immigration.
His executive order, signed on Friday, halted the entire US refugee programme and also instituted a 90-day travel ban for nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Those who were already mid-flight were detained on arrival – even if they held valid visas or other immigration permits.
The ruling, from US District Judge Ann Donnelly, prevented the removal from the US of people with approved refugee applications, valid visas, and “other individuals… legally authorised to enter the United States”.
The emergency ruling also said there was a risk of “substantial and irreparable injury” to those affected.