LOS ANGELES – A federal judge in Los Angeles has issued a restraining order blocking the enforcement of President Donald Trump’s executive order preventing visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, according to court documents obtained Wednesday.
The temporary restraining order, issued late Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr., allows more than two dozen people from Yemen to fly into Los Angeles International Airport from Djibouti, an African country near Yemen where they were stopped from boarding an LAX-bound flight over the weekend.
But the order also extended beyond the roughly two dozen plaintiffs, with Birotte also barring immigration officials at LAX from blocking the entry of any person from the seven countries included in Trump’s order, as long as they have valid immigrant visas.
The plaintiffs “have shown that they are likely to succeed on the merits of claims that would entitle them to relief,” Birotte wrote in the order, noting that the injunction is “in the public interest.”
The court scheduled a hearing on the matter for Feb. 10, at which time the judge could issue further orders and may make his temporary order permanent.
“It’s comforting to see a federal judge issuing this order and following the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law,” said Neal Zaslavsky, a West Hollywood attorney who is among several lawyers working on the case.
The ruling, while similar to orders issued by judges in Seattle and elsewhere, applies to a lawsuit filed Tuesday under seal in federal court in Los Angeles on behalf of 28 plaintiffs who are United States citizens of Yemeni descent and their family members.
“These people have a right to come here,” Zaslavsky said. “They were refused boarding because of the Trump order.”
Plaintiffs’ attorneys contend that Trump’s executive order violates equal protection, due process and other constitutional protections. The order singles out Muslims, but allows Christians to come into the United States from Syria, Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.
Trump’s immigration ban is scheduled to last 90 days. The order also suspended refugee admissions from all countries for 120 days pending a review of the program.
Zaslavsky said the plaintiffs are still in Africa while attorneys there attempt to use Birotte’s order to convince the airline to allow them to board a flight which would ultimately bring them to Los Angeles.
The White House has defended Trump’s order as national security effort aimed at securing the country’s borders.
“Coming into this country is still a privilege,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week. “We’re the greatest country on Earth. Being able to come to America is a privilege, not a right. And it is our duty and it’s the president’s goal to make sure that everybody who comes into this country — to the best of our ability — is here because they want to enjoy this country and come in peacefully.”
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