scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Boston judge also puts hold on deportations

Immigration lawyer Susan Church speaks at Logan airport.
Immigration lawyer Susan Church speaks at Logan airport.

Editor’s note: Click here to read a more current and detailed version of this story.

A judge temporarily ruled in favor of two University of Massachusetts Dartmouth associate professors, both Iranian nationals and Muslim, who were detained for hours Saturday at Logan International Airport — a result of President Trump’s recent executive order on imigration.

The decision, which will remain in effect for seven days, stated that individuals may be not detained or removed “by any manner or means” if they have an approved refugee application, a valid immigrant or non-immigrant visa, or are a permanent resident.

Trump’s executive order, signed on Friday, bars immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US, halts refugees worldwide from entering the US for 120 days, plus bans Syrian refugees indefinitely. Protests ensued around the country, including at Logan, as passengers were detained or turned away.


This federal ruling applies to individuals from the seven countries in Trump’s policy who “absent of the executive order, would be legally authorized to enter the United States.”

The professors, Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam, are permanent residents of the United States who left the country for an academic conference, the petition said. They arrived at Logan around 5:30 p.m. Saturday and were held “solely pursuant to an executive order issued” by Trump, the petition said.

Attorney Susan Church, who leads the New England chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said the professors were released three hours later.

The immigration lawyers and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed the lawsuit on the professors’ behalf.

The judge’s decision also ordered secondary screenings be limited to comply with the regulations in the executive order and that US Customs and Border Protection should notify airlines with incoming flights to Logan to ensure the court order is followed.


Also Saturday night, a federal judge in New York ruled that refugees and non-US citizens who have been detained at airports across the country should not be deported.

Around 10 p.m., about 10 immigration lawyers gathered at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in a late-night attempt to ensure Massachusetts would be included in any national legal action.

For hours, the group of lawyers, mostly women, debated legal arguments and scan documents on their cellphones. At least one attorney arrived in formal dress after rushing to the courthouse directly from another event.

Lawyer Sue Finegan left gala to come to the court. Susan Cohen ditched a 60th birthday party. And Laura Rotolo of the ACLU left after her 6-year-old’s birthday party.

“We all raced over to help,” Finegan said.

Lawyer Kerry Doyle carried a copy of the Immigrant and Nationality Act under her arm, and lawyer Melissa Smith handed out Girl Scout cookies — Thin Mints — for sustenance.

Maria Sacchetti can be reached at Felicia Gans can be reached at