Los Angeles (AFP) - In yet another challenge to President Donald Trump's travel ban, a California federal judge has issued a court order barring the US government from preventing more than two dozen Yemenis with valid visas from flying to Los Angeles.
US District Judge Andre Birotte handed down his temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction Tuesday following an emergency motion filed by immigration attorney Julie Goldberg and her associate Daniel Covarrubias-Klein on behalf of 28 plaintiffs.
"These are people escaping war, I have people who are injured, people who aren't getting proper medical care, children that have died (while awaiting their visas)," Goldberg, who is currently in Djibouti, where her clients are held up in transit, said by telephone.
"These are the women and children of US citizens and I need to get that message across," she added, clearly frustrated by the plight of her clients, some of whom are living in a house she rents in the tiny African nation.
Birotte's ruling comes on the heels of similar orders issued by judges in several other US states, including New York, Virginia and Washington.
Among those left in limbo in Djibouti because of Trump's temporary travel ban is a Yemeni man whose wife and daughter are US citizens, but whose three-year-old son is an immigrant visa applicant with a passport stuck at the US embassy in Djibouti.
Another is an elderly woman who planned to join her son -- a US citizen -- and his family, and a six-year-old child whose mother is a US citizen.
- 'People escaping war' -
Goldberg, who has law offices in New York and Los Angeles, said she has some 214 Yemeni clients who have been affected by the travel ban and who are now stranded in Djibouti, unable to return to their war-ravaged country.
She said another 1,000 people, most of them from Yemen and Somalia, had their visa appointments at the US embassy in Djibouti canceled and were also stranded.
"How is banning a three-year-old child preventing terrorism from happening in the US? I just need to know," the attorney said.
"We are not banning terrorists, we are preventing children from being with their parents."
Goldberg said that despite the court rulings issued by several federal judges instructing the US government not to implement Trump's executive order, and despite the White House clarifying that holders of green cards would not be affected by the ban, people were still being turned away by the airlines.
"Green card holders can come in, but the airlines won't take them because Customs and Border Patrol is telling them that if these people are not admitted, you are responsible for the carrier fees, which are $10,000 a shot," Goldberg said.
"We are trying to track down an airline that is willing to respect the system of government we have in the United States and honor the court order."
Klein said it was concerning that immigration officials were apparently wilfully ignoring rulings by federal judges and expected the legal challenges to reach the Supreme Court.
"It's unclear how this is going to play out in the interim but we expect these cases to make their way to the highest court in the land," he said.
Trump's executive order suspends entry of all refugees to the US for 120 days, bars Syrian refugees indefinitely and blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the US for 90 days.