Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the ACLU to stay deportations of those detained on entry to the United States following President Donald Trump's executive order.
After a brief hearing in front of a small audience that filtered in from a crowd of hundreds outside, Donnelly determined that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision. She seemed to have little patience for the arguments presented by the government, which focused heavily on the fact that the two defendants named in the suit had already been released. At one point, she visibly lost patience with a government attorney who was participating by phone.
Donnelly noted that those detained were suffering mostly from the bad fortune of traveling while the ban went into effect. "Our own government presumably approved their entry to the country," she said at one point, noting that, had it been two days prior, those been detained would have been granted admission without question.
In the middle of the hearing ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt informed the court that he'd received word of an imminent deportation to Syria, scheduled within the hour. That prompted Donnelly to ask if the government could assure that the person would not suffer irreparable harm. Receiving no such assurance, she granted the stay to the broad group included in the ACLU's request.
After the decision was made, Donnelly asked the government if they could provide a list of those being detained to the ACLU. The government's attorneys indicated that they could not. "It is more difficult than it sounds," U.S attorney Susan Riley said.
The ACLU said it had won a stay in federal court preventing implementation of the executive order.