A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order telling U.S. Customs and Border Protection that the agency must stop enforcing part of the Muslim ban at Los Angeles International Airport. The order, issued late Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr., did not address the entirety of the executive order—it only deals with immigrant visas and says nothing directly about the vetting processes that have caused people to be held for hours without lawyers present. But it does make clear that deportations and the “removing, detaining, or blocking” from entry of people on immigrant visas from seven Muslim-majority countries must stop.
Very little about the case was available Wednesday on the federal court docket; most of the records, including the complaint, were marked as either under seal or unavailable due to the nature of the lawsuit. According to the Los Angeles Times, the court documents argue that the ban “improperly targets Muslims based on their religion, calling the efforts to ban immigrants ‘illegal discriminatory actions motivated by religious animus.’” From the Times:
The case involves several Yemeni families, in which some members had already immigrated to the U.S. while their spouses and children remained in Yemen, according to court filings. Those who stayed behind eventually began the immigrant application process to rejoin their relatives in the U.S.
The family members trying to reach the U.S. had begun their journey before Trump signed the executive order, the lawsuit said. They left Yemen, a country mired in a bloody civil war, and made their way to the nearby country of Djibouti, where they received their visas after completing the U.S.’s vetting process.
In making a case for why Birotte should intervene, lawyers for the group cited the dangers the ongoing civil war posed to the women and children if they returned to Yemen and added that the families could no longer afford the costs of living in Djibouti.
This is the second court order dealing with the Muslim ban at LAX, although the first covered just one person and used much more limited language. It’s also one of several orders issued by judges for major airports across the country. Whether CBP is following them, however, is impossible to know. The officers aren’t answering questions, the agency isn’t allowing lawyers access to the people being held, and officers have been seen refusing to accept court documents related to the ban. On Wednesday, Rachel Odio with Public Counsel told me that nothing had changed at LAX, one of the busiest airport in the world. People were waiting extended periods of time to see their loved ones, she said, and CBP wasn’t saying anything.
Tuesday’s court order said the defendants, which in this case includes CBP and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, must respond with their opposition by Sunday. The full order is below.