2 Iraqis file lawsuit after being detained in US

Washington, Jan 29 (IANS) Lawyers for two Iraqis with ties to the US military who had been granted visas to enter the US have filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump and the US government after they were detained when they arrived in New York.

The lawsuit could represent the first legal challenge to Trump’s controversial executive order, which indefinitely suspends admissions for Syrian refugees and limits the flow of other refugees into the US by instituting what the President has called “extreme vetting” of immigrants, CNN reported on Saturday.

Trump’s order also bars Iraqi citizens, as well as people from six other Muslim-majority nations, from entering the US for 90 days, and suspends the US Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until it is reinstated “only for nationals of countries for whom” members of Trump’s Cabinet deem can be properly vetted.

According to court papers, both men legally were allowed to come into the US but were detained in accordance with Trump’s move to ban travel from several Muslim-majority nations.

One of the men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who worked as an interpreter for the US during the Iraq War, was released from detention early Saturday afternoon.

“America is the land of freedom,” Darweesh told reporters at the airport shortly after his release. “America is the greatest nation.”

Asked about Trump, Darweesh said, “I like him, but I don’t know.” He added that he was separated from his family Friday at the airport.

A source with knowledge of the case confirmed Darweesh will be allowed into the US due to provisions in Trump’s order that allow the State and Homeland Security departments to admit individuals into the US on a case-by-case base for certain reasons, including when the person is already in transit and it would cause undue hardship and would not pose a threat to the security of the US.

The suit said Darweesh held a special immigrant visa, which he was granted the day of Trump’s inauguration on January 20, due to his work for the US government from 2003 to 2013.

The other Iraqi man named as a plaintiff in the suit is Haider Sameer Abdulkaleq Alshawi, who was still being held at JFK as of early Saturday afternoon.

Nadler and Velazquez railed against Trump’s order and pledged continued action.