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A Judge Orders One Syrian Family's Asylum Request Be Processed

Joseph Eid AFP/Getty Images
The Karm al-Jabal neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, in a picture taken during a sandstorm Friday. A U.S. court has issued a temporary order that one Syrian family's asylum petition be processed regardless of President Trump's new travel ban.

A federal judge temporarily blocked enforcement of President Trump's revised travel ban on Friday, but only as it applies to a family of Syrian asylum seekers.

The ruling, issued by U.S. District Court Judge William M. Conley, said the wife and 3-year-old daughter of a Syrian Muslim man living in Wisconsin faced the possibility of "suffering irreparable harm" if the executive order forced them to remain in Aleppo. It marks the first legal setback for Trump's revised order on immigration, though its impact is limited to just the man and his family.

The plaintiff is listed as John Doe in court filings for the safety of his family. He says he fled Aleppo after being imprisoned and tortured separately by forces aligned with President Bashar Assad and anti-government rebels. The plaintiff was granted asylum in the United States in May 2016.


In July 2016, he applied for asylum on behalf of his wife and daughter. He first filed suit against Trump in February after the president's Jan. 27 executive order on immigration halted the processing of the family's visas. The Syrian man withdrew his suit after a Washington state court blocked enforcement of the travel ban nationwide, and processing of asylum applications resumed.

The man refiled on Friday, citing concerns that the new executive order, signed this week, will again prevent his family from entering the country when it takes effect on March 16.

The plaintiff argues that the executive order targets Muslims unfairly and implements a Trump campaign promise of a "total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States." The Syrian man also maintains that "the Executive Order exceeds the scope of the President's authority and is unconstitutional."

Department of Justice attorneys for Trump objected to the man's request for a temporary restraining order and argued that the new executive order may not even apply to him.

"The court appreciates that there may be important differences between the original executive order, and the revised executive order issued on March 6, 2017," Conley wrote in his ruling. "As the order applies to the plaintiff here, however, the court finds his claims have at least some chance of prevailing for the reasons articulated by other courts."


In a follow-up hearing scheduled for March 21, Conley will consider extending his order that visas for the man's family be processed.

Several other legal challenges to the new executive order will be heard in courts across the country next week.

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