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A long battle begins between Donald Trump and immigrant advocates

Washington: Resistance to US President Donald Trump's crackdown on Muslim immigration mounted quickly, with protests spreading across the country and the first legal challenge filed to an order branded as blatantly discriminatory.

US President Donald Trump. AFP

US President Donald Trump. AFP

Around 2,000 angry protesters flocked to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport after a dozen travelers were detained there, including two Iraqi men late Friday, shortly after Trump signed the travel ban.

Large protests also took place at the main airports for Washington, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas, where USA Today said about 50 people were detained.

"We knew that was coming -- we were prepared," said Camille Mackler, a lawyer who heads legal initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, one of the groups that quickly mounted the demonstration there.

"But we didn't know when, and we couldn't believe it would be immediate, that there'd be people in an airplane the moment the order was taking effect." The List Project, which helps Iraqis whose personal safety is threatened because they have worked for the United States, expressed outraged over the move, warning it put American lives at risk too.

"I can't say this in blunt-enough terms: you can't screw over the people that risked their lives and bled for this country without consequences," wrote the project's founder and director Kirk Johnson. "But here is President Trump, in his first week, suspending the refugee program through an executive order that creates no exceptions for the tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who worked alongside our Marines, soldiers, diplomats and aid workers."

He noted that of the approximately 800,000 refugees who have come to the United States since the September 11, 2001 attacks, none have been charged with domestic terror attacks. The first lawsuit against Trump's order was filed in a federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups after the two Iraqi men were detained.

The filing seeks class-action status in order to represent all refugees and travelers held up because of the presidential action. An emergency hearing took place late Saturday in Brooklyn.

Updated Date: Jan 29, 2017 09:46 AM

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