Prominent rights groups in the United States are taking action against US President Donald Trump’s recent ban on Muslims.
The ban, announced via an executive order late Friday, triggered response from American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other advocacy groups as well as some US lawmakers.
At a federal court in Brooklyn, the ACLU sued on behalf of two Iraqi men, detained shortly after Trump’s order at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
At least 11 others were arrested at the JFK, said Democratic congressman Jerrold Nadler who went there to press for the release of the first two and was joined later by another lawmaker, Nydia Velazquez.
Meanwhile, calls grew for a protest at the airport, prompting massive crowds of demonstrators to gather there.
"It is certainly mean-spirited and ill conceived," Nadler told CNN. "It's certainly an instance of religious discrimination."
It was not exactly clear how many had been detained following the executive order.
"This will traumatize, terrorize, and potentially separate many American families," said the Legal Defense Fund at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Rights group are requesting that their challenge is considered class action so that they can represent all those detained based on the order.
The president, meanwhile, appeared before reporters in the White House's Oval Office to defend his decision, which he claimed would protect the US against terrorists "very nicely."
“It’s not a Muslim ban,” he said. “It’s working out very nicely... You see it at the airports, you see it all over.”
“We’re going to have a very, very strict ban and we’re going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years,” he said.
Trump’s order would impose a 90-day ban on entry from citizens of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia, block refugees from Syria indefinitely, and suspend all refugee admissions for 120 days.
“We don’t want them here,” Trump said as he signed the order. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
Violating the First Amendment, the measure amounts to “treason” against the United States Constitution, according to American author Kevin Barret.