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Lawyers advise green card holders to fly into Boston

Thousands gathered at Copley Square to protest President Trump’s immigration orders
Thousands gathered at Copley Square to protest President Trump’s immigration orders

Some immigration lawyers are advising green card holders from seven majority-Muslim countries affected by President Trump’s order and who are traveling overseas to fly back to the United States through Boston because a Massachusetts judge’s order blocking the enforcement of President Trump’s executive order offers them more protection than similar judicial orders elsewhere.

The order signed by Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein, issued early Sunday morning, requires the government to release approved refugees and individuals with valid visas from the seven majority-Muslim countries listed in President Trump’s executive order — Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and Yemen.


A similar order from a New York judge blocks immigration officials from deporting those individuals upon their arrival, but it allows the government to detain them pending further legal review.

Becca Heller, director and co-founder of the International Refugee Assistance Project, said green card holders from the seven countries have been detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, as well as other airports around the country.

She said that her team is trying to plan “a massive outreach campaign” to alert green card holders to change their plans and fly through Boston.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning that the order will not affect any green card holders going forward, but he also said that border agents would have “discretionary authority” over whether to question travelers from the seven countries listed in Trump’s order.

Legal advocates for immigrants and refugees described scenes of chaos and confusion at airports around the nation.

The New York order preventing the deportation of approved refugees and other immigrants with valid visas should apply nationally because it was filed on behalf of a national class of petitioners, but Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said federal agents have not universally complied with it.


“We continue to face Border Patrol noncompliance and chaos at every airport across the country and the world, despite the fact we had a great victory last night,” the told reporters on the same conference call on Sunday.

The Burroughs restraining order is in effect for seven days; the court will schedule a hearing prior to its expiration.

Lisa Wangsness can be reached at