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Federal Judge In California Orders Detained And Deported Visa Holder Returned To America

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Ali Vayeghan was set to arrive at LAX at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, make his way through customs with a visa in hand, and emerge into the terminal to meet his niece, Marjan Vayeghan. But by 3:00 a.m Saturday morning, Ali had yet to appear. According to the Los Angeles Times, Ali Vayeghan, an Iranian national, was traveling through LAX on his way to see his wife, who arrived in the States four months ago, and his son, a U.S. citizen, in Indiana.

Instead, Vayeghan was detained for hours by CBP as result of the Trump administration's then-hours-old executive order prohibiting entrance to immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations - Iran being one of them. Vayeghan, despite his valid entry visa, was then put on a plane to Dubai. Once there, "Vayeghan was held in custody by local authorities working with U.S. border officials,"KPCC reports, adding that he was threatened to be sent back to Iran.

“It’s a story about a son who wants to see his dad after 12 years, and just be with our family,” Marjan Vayeghan told the Los Angeles Times. “We did not think this would be a big deal — we’d pick my uncle at LAX, eat, hang out, travel. We didn’t know our entire world would turn upside down.”

Then, on Sunday afternoon, the story took another turn. Federal Judge Dolly Gee, of California's Central District, sided with a petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and ordered Ali be returned to America.

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"Petitioner has demonstrated a strong likelihood of success in establishing that removal violates the Establishment Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and [Vayeghan’s] rights to Equal Protection guaranteed by the United States Constitution," Gee wrote in her ruling. She added, "There is a strong likelihood that Petitioner is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of interim injunctive relief."

"In light of the foregoing, it is hereby ordered that: ...Respondents shall transport Petitioner back to the United States and admit him under the terms of his previously approved visa."

According to the Times, the order of events ran on close timing. Vayeghan was placed on a plane to Dubai at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday. The ACLU's attorneys received paperwork for Vayeghan's release some 45 minutes later - already too late.

“If he had left for Los Angeles one or two days earlier, he’d be fine,” Marjan Vayeghan said. “If he hadn’t been deported a half hour earlier, he’d be fine. ...He’s literally crying in the airport in Dubai."

It is believed at least 17 more people are currently detained at LAX, despite an emergency stay ruling issued by a separate federal judge on Saturday.