Immigration lawyers sued on Saturday to block President Donald Trump's order halting the entry of refugees and foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States, saying numerous people have already been unlawfully detained.
The lawyers from numerous immigration organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union sued in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on behalf of two Iraqi men, one a former U.S. government worker and the other the husband of a former U.S. security contractor.
The two men had visas to enter the United States but were detained on Friday night at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, hours after Trump's executive order put a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travelers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit asks a judge to order the release of the two men and to block the enforcement of Trump's order on behalf of a class of people who have valid entry documents but are in the same situation at various U.S. airports.
One of the plaintiffs, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, 53, worked for the U.S. Army and for a U.S. contractor in Iraq from 2003 to 2013 as an interpreter and engineer, the lawsuit said.
The other plaintiff, Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, 33, is the husband of a woman who worked for a U.S. security contractor from 2006 to 2007 as an accountant, the lawsuit said.
Their "continued unlawful detention is part of a widespread pattern applied to many refugees and arriving aliens detained after the issuance of the January 27, 2017 executive order," the lawyers wrote.
Representatives for the White House could not immediately be reached for comment.
Trump said on Friday that the order would help protect Americans from terrorist attacks.
(Reporting by David Ingram; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Alan Crosby)