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Police and protesters square off at Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport

A federal judge in New York late on Saturday blocked deportations of those detained on entry to the United States after an executive order from President Trump targeted citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Judge Ann Donnelly of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the deportations after determining that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision.

Minutes after the judge’s ruling in New York, another order came in Alexandria when U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a temporary restraining order to block for seven days the removal of any green-card holder being detained at Dulles International Airport. Brinkema also ordered that lawyers have access to those held there because of the ban.

The president’s order, signed Friday, suspends admission to the United States of all refugees for 120 days and bars for 90 days the entry of any citizen from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia.

That list excludes several Muslim- majority nations — notably Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia — where the Trump Organization, now run by the president’s adult sons, is active and which in some cases have also faced troublesome issues with terrorism.

Confusion and concern among immigrant advocates mounted throughout the day as travelers from the Middle East were detained at U.S. airports or sent home. A lawsuit filed on behalf of two Iraqi men challenged Trump’s executive action, which was signed on Friday and initially cast as applying to refugees and migrants.

But as the day progressed, administration officials confirmed that the sweeping order also targeted U.S. legal residents from the named countries — green-card holders — who were abroad when it was signed. Also subject to being barred entry into the United States are dual nationals, or people born in one of the seven countries who hold passports even from U.S. allies, such as the United Kingdom.

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Protesters at JFK airport

The virtually unprecedented measures triggered harsh reactions from not only Democrats and others who typically advocate for immigrants but also key sectors of the U.S. business community.

Leading technology companies recalled scores of overseas employees and sharply criticized the president. Legal experts forecast a wave of litigation over the order, calling it unconstitutional. Lawyers and advocates for immigrants are advising them to seek asylum in Canada.

Thousands of academics, including 13 Nobel Laureates, signed a petition saying, “This is a major step towards implementing the stringent racial and religious profiling promised on the campaign trail.”

“This measure is fatally disruptive to the lives of these immigrants, their families, and the communities of which they form an integral part. It is inhumane, ineffective, and un-American,” the petition said.

Yet Trump, who centered his campaign in part on his vow to crack down on illegal immigrants and impose what became known as his “Muslim ban,’’ was unbowed. As White House officials insisted that the measure strengthens national security, the president stood squarely behind it.

“It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It’s working out very nicely, and we’re going to have a very, very strict ban, and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.”

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted late Saturday, “I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight defending our values & our Constitution. This is not who we are.”

A Syrian widow who is the subject of an Oscar-nominated film has been barred from travelling to the US ahead of the awards ceremony next month. Watani: My Homeland, which tells the true story of a Syrian family forced to flee Aleppo for sanctuary in Germany, is nominated in the ‘Documentary Short Subject’ category.

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