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Lawyers try to win detained travellers’ release

A day after protesters descended on John F Kennedy airport in New York and a judge stayed the executive order temporarily banning entry into the US for people from seven majority Muslim countries, a number of travellers were still being held in custody on Sunday.

There were confused scenes at JFK airport, with immigration officials unclear on how the orders should be implemented, according to lawyers helping detainees.

Renée Paradis, a lawyer helping detainees at JFK, welcomed the stay issued by a federal court in New York but said that there was some confusion because “it requires those people be admitted, but not that they necessarily be released from detention”.

Although there were suggestions on Sunday that the restrictions did not apply to legal permanent residents of the US, also known as green card holders, at least one such resident was detained for 30 hours.

Iman Alknfushe, a lawful permanent resident, returned from a trip to Iran via another country on Saturday morning, and was held until being released on Sunday afternoon.

At least four other permanent residents were still being held on Sunday afternoon, according to Hakeem Jefferies, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from New York.

Those being held all had valid visas or were permanent residents, he added.

Democratic politicians joined protests in other parts of the country. Protests were called for Sunday in cities from Boston to San Diego, including Omaha, Louisville and Salt Lake City.

Some 5,000 people gathered in New York’s Battery Park, according to the mayor’s office, where Senator Chuck Schumer warned that the Trump administration wanted to “take away what makes us American” in the name of security.

“What we are taking about here is the beautiful lady out on the harbour,” he said in reference to the Statue of Liberty visible in the background. Protesters chanted “no hate no fear, immigrants are welcome here” as well as “build a wall, we’ll tear it down”.

“Everyone’s religion should be honoured and accepted. No one should hide what beliefs are especially in a country that has claimed to be opened to all,” said Melissa Gorman, a 53-year-old public school teacher, who had also marched at the DC Women’s march.

Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat senator from Massachusetts, addressed protesters at Logan airport in Boston on Saturday, saying: “We will not turn away people who try to help Americans. We will not turn away anyone because of their religion.”

Cory Booker, a Democrat senator from New Jersey, spoke at Washington Dulles airport, talking about “a long fight” ahead. Both Ms Warren and Mr Booker have been suggested as possible contenders for the presidency in 2020.

On Saturday the New York Taxi Workers Alliance encouraged its drivers to join the protest and went on an hour-long strike in the evening. “Drivers stand in solidarity with refugees coming to America in search of peace and safety,” the alliance said. “The president is putting professional drivers in more danger than they have been in any time since 9/11 when hate crimes against immigrants skyrocketed.”

Uber, the ride-hailing service, announced that it was suspending its surge pricing, which raises the cost of trips at busy times, while the taxis were not running. That led to a storm of protests against Uber for strikebreaking.

#DeleteUber began trending on Twitter on Saturday, and users wrote comments to Uber accusing it of collaborating with Mr Trump. On Sunday it was still the top trending topic on Twitter in New York.

Earlier, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said in a statement: “This ban will impact many innocent people — an issue that I will raise this coming Friday when I go to Washington for President Trump’s first business advisory group meeting.”

He also said Uber was working on a process to identify Uber drivers who had been shut out of the country, and to “compensate them pro bono during the next three months to help mitigate some of the financial stress and complications with supporting their families and putting food on the table”.

Lyft, another leading ride-hailing service, emailed its users on Sunday, saying: “Banning people of a particular faith or creed, race or identity, sexuality or ethnicity, from entering the US is antithetical to both Lyft’s and our nation’s core values. We stand firmly against these actions, and will not be silent on issues that threaten the values of our community.”

Additional reporting by Hannah Kuchler

Via FT