Brooklynites party outside federal courthouse after judge blocks Trump’s deportations

Crowd-man plaza: Hundreds, maybe thousands, assembled outside the federal courthouse to await a judge’s ruling on President Trump’s immigration bans.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Hundreds partied outside the Brooklyn Federal Court on Saturday night after a judge blocked President Trump from deporting refugees and other valid visa holders trapped at airports around the country.

Residents high-tailed it to the Downtown courthouse as news of the emergency hearing spread through social media at 7 pm, and by the time the court’s decision came down at 9 pm, a packed Cadman Plaza East erupted with people singing, chanting, and cheering alongside a live brass band.

“It was a party feeling,” said Clinton Hill resident Marika Plater. “It’s really nice to see this response to all the anger that’s out there right now.”

Inside, Judge Ann Donnelly had to shush whoops as she granted a temporary stay on the orders Trump signed on Friday that bans citizens of Syria and six other Muslim countries from entering the U.S. — declaring that those turned back could face “irreparable harm,” while their threat to this country is low given authorities had considered them perfectly safe enough for visas, green cards, or refugee status just days earlier.

“If they had come in two days ago, we wouldn’t be here,” said Donnelly.

Somewhere between 100 and 200 people (even the Feds’ lawyers claimed they didn’t know exactly) were being held at airports around America on Saturday — including around a dozen at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens, where hundreds of protestors also gathered throughout the day to demand they be let in.

Ultimately, two were released in New York that day, although Donnelly’s decision doesn’t necessarily mean the rest will be freed, lawyers warned — they could be held in detention until the case is actually heard on Feb. 21.

“That’s a lot of time to be sitting in a detention center,” said Anthony Romero, head of the American Civil liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit.

Still, the returning legal eagles received a hero’s welcome from locals, who said they were sickened by the thought of residents being denied entry to the land of the free.

“I’m just horrified that people are being detained at JFK, we are a country of immigrants,” said Prospect-Lefferts Gardens resident Carolyn Bost while fighting back tears. “It’s unconscionable what he’s doing. I don’t know what to tell my 10-year-old daughter.”

The Brooklynites acknowledged they still have a long fight ahead, but were buoyed by the court’s decision and how many of their neighbors had turned out in support.

“This is just so beautiful, I am just so proud,” said Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Downtown), who spent the whole day at Kennedy Airport with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–Sunset Park). “Now we have to bring justice to all the refugees who are escaping violence in their countries to be here — this is who we are.”

Reach deputy editor Ruth Brown at rbrown@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8309. Follow her at twitter.com/rbbrown.
Shine a light: Brooklynites said they were heartened by the huge turnout to support those facing deportation.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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