One Iraqi Released, One Still Held at New York Airport in Wake of Trump’s Executive Order

ABC News(NEW YORK) --  One of at least two Iraqis detained at Kennedy International Airport in New York City in the wake of President Trump’s executive order on immigration has been released.

Hameed Jhalid Darweesh walked out of Kennedy Airport with New York Congressional Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Jerry Nadler.


Darweesh was one of at least two Iraqis held at the airport, and court records confirm that a writ of habeas corpus was filed for him and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq in the Eastern District of New York, where the airport is located, and that Donald Trump has been named as a defendant.

Velazquez said Darweesh was one of 12 people detained at the airport, but did not specify the nationalities of the other 10.

Darweesh expressed his gratitude for those who supported him while he was detained.

"First of all, I want to thank the people that take care of me and support me. They leave their family, their business and come to support me. This is what pushed me to move, to leave my country and come here. And I'm very, very thankful to all of the people who have come to support me," he said to reporters at the airport.

"America is the land of freedom," Darweesh said. "The land of freedom, the land of the rights. This is what brought me to come here, and I'm very thankful."

 Neither Darweesh nor Abdulkhaleq are technically refugees according to the definition in the president's executive order but appear to have come to the U.S. on visas, a Trump administration official tells ABC News. The executive order contains a caveat that allows certain individuals to be admitted to the country if there is a national security interest in doing so, and these two may be eligible for such an exemption, which must be agreed upon by the State and Homeland Security Departments, but the process by which this happens is unclear.

At least one person was detained at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago today, and it is expected that she will return to Saudi Arabia, according to the Cuncil on American Islamic Relations.

Sahar Alghnimi, a Syrian woman who came to the U.S. on tourist visa to see her mother who had just undergone cancer surgery, was detained when she arrived from Saudi Arabia at 8:48 AM on Eithad Airlines, CAIR Chicago executive director Ahmed Rehab told ABC News.

Alghnimi had been to the U.S. several times before and has a valid visa, Rehab said.

In addition, seven U.S.-bound migrants -- six from Iraq and one from Yemen -- have been prevented from boarding a flight in Egypt that was bound for Kennedy Airport, according to reports.

Officials said the seven migrants, escorted by representatives of the United Nations refugee agency, were stopped from boarding the plane after authorities at Cairo's airport contacted their counterparts at the airport in New York.

 Ripple effects from the executive order are also being felt in multinational technology companies.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai circulated a staff memo, obtained by Bloomberg News, in which he criticized Trump's action and suggested that some of the firm's employees and their families could be affected by it.

Trump categorized the executive order as part of a vetting plan to prevent “radical Islamic terrorists” from reaching American soil.

The seven-page document calls for an immediate suspension of immigration from countries with ties to terror -- Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran and Libya -- for a time period of 90 days. It also calls for the complete suspension of Syrian refugees for an indefinite period. It also calls on the secretary of state to suspend the entire U.S program for admitting refugees for 120 days while authorities review the application and adjudication process.

Trump told the the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christian refugees would be given priority over Muslims in applications to come to the U.S.

"We are going to help them," Trump said of Christians in Syria.

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