Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn may be called upon to defend Trump's Executive Order on Muslim travel ban


Updated 28 Jan 2017 19:12 ⎪ U.S. District Court Judge Ann Donnelly has ordered an emergency hearing at U.S. District Court in Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening. The Hon. Judge Donnelly will be hearing legal arguments from attorneys for two Iraqi men, who were detained at John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. The two men, Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, had been detained as a consequence of an Executive Order signed on Friday by President Donald Trump that he described as an effort to "keep out radical Islamic terrorists" from entering into the United States. The announcement of the hearing followed unsuccessful efforts by elected officials to seek the release of all of the individuals reportedly being detained at JFK Airport.

One of two Iraqi men, who had been detained at JFK Airport in Queens, was released after intervention by two U.S. Representatives. Mr. Darweesh was released after U.S. Reps. Nydia Velázquez (D-Brooklyn) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) had traveled to JFK Airport to negotiate the release of the men with agency officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. News reports suggested that another eleven men remain detained at JFK Airport, including Mr. Alshawi, as a consequence of President Trump's Executive Order. News reports also noted that Muslim travelers had been being similarly detained at airports across the U.S. A request for information made by Progress Queens to the media office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was not immediately answered.

Some of the attorneys representing the two Iraqi men did not answer advance questions submitted by Progress Queens for this report. After the two Iraqi men were taken into custody, a team of lawyers filed a petition for habeas corpus to meet with and to seek the release of the two men. A press release published online by the office of U.S. Rep. Velázquez described the process by which Mr. Darweesh was released : "After meeting with officials from the Custom and Border Patrol agency, one of the refugees, Hameed Khalid Darweesh, an Iraqi translator who helped the United States government, was released," adding that, "Reps. Velázquez and Nadler are still working to release 11 others being held at JFK under the new executive order. " News that President Trump's Executive Order had led to the detention of travelers, who had been granted legal visas to enter the U.S., triggered spontaneous protests at JFK Airport, and some New York-based Federal officials used the opportunity of the controversy to denounce President Trump's Executive Order. 

The Executive Order issued on Friday by President Trump was instantly controversial. It immediately banned for 90 days admission of individuals from the countries of  Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen , according to a report published by The New York Times. It was separately noted that President Trump's Executive Order was unprincipled, because other Muslim-majority nations, notably, Saudi Arabia, were excluded from the travel ban, despite some concerns that Saudi Arabia represented the kind of risk that President Trump had argued he was trying to address. In The New York Daily News, a report noted that President Trump had personal business dealings with some of the Muslim-majority nations that had been excluded from the Executive Order. Another particular aspect of the Executive Order, namely, that holders of so-called "Green Cards" would also be ensnared by the travel restrictions, drew outrage. Holders of "Green Cards" receive authorization to permanently live and work in the U.S. After confusion and public outrage, the Trump administration indicated that Holders of "Green Cards" could apply for a waiver from the Executive Order, and their waiver applications would be processed on a case-by-case basis, according to a report published online by CBS News.

Federal litigation over President Trump's Executive Order may play out in Brooklyn Federal Court

By late Saturday afternoon, organisers of the protest at JFK Airport indicated that they would remain until all detained travelers were released from custody. If Federal law enforcement officials do not release all of the detainees, then resolution will have to be reached through the Courts. In addition to having filed a petition for habeas corpus for the two Iraqi men, attorneys for Messrs. Darweesh and Alshawi had filed a motion, seeking to certify their petition for habeas corpus on behalf of a class of individuals. Because the team of attorneys made their filing in Brooklyn Federal Court, which has jurisdiction over JFK Airport, that means that Federal prosecutors from the same jurisdiction will likely be assigned to defend the Government from the allegations in the petition for habeas corpus. The press office of the U.S. Attorney's Office for New York's eastern district declined to answer some advance questions submitted by Progress Queens for this report. The Federal prosecutors' office in Brooklyn is headed by U.S. Attorney Robert Capers.

In several reports published by Progress Queens, the work of the office of U.S. Attorney Capers has been described to be serving as a platform for reform and accountability. The career prosecutors working for U.S. Attorney Capers have led investigations to enforce compliance with environmental laws, have investigated and are prosecuting significant Government officials on Long Island on public corruption charges, and are escalating their investigation and prosecution of corporate corruption. Against this remarkable record of accomplishment, the office of U.S. Attorney Capers has had a mixed record on matters pertaining to civil rights. As reported by Progress Queens, the career Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn have applied to join a Federal lawsuit seeking to defend Federal voting rights. It took pressure from officials from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC, before Brooklyn Federal prosecutors reportedly began presenting evidence to a grand jury in the NYPD officer-involved homicide of Eric Garner. At the same time, Brooklyn Federal prosecutors have sought to weaken the strength of the Freedom of Information Act, and Brooklyn Federal prosecutors have participated with other Federal law enforcement agencies to target LGBT businesses in a regressive effort to criminalise consensual sex between adult LGBT Americans.