Detained Iraqi Calls America ‘The Greatest Nation’ Upon Release

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NEW YORK (CBSMiami/AP) — An Iraqi man detained overnight at a New York City airport because of President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees from certain Muslim nations has called America “the land of freedom” after being released from custody.

Hameed Khalid Darweesh worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Army when it invaded Iraq in 2003. Later he was a contract engineer for the U.S.

He was granted permission to relocate to the U.S., but was detained along with another traveler from Iraq after arriving at Kennedy Airport Friday night.

Lawyers petitioned a federal court early Saturday to let them go. Two Democratic U.S. Representatives, Nydia Velazquez and Jerrold Nalder, were at the airport trying to get 11 other detainees released.

After he was freed Saturday, Darweesh told a waiting crowd that “America is the greatest nation, the greatest people in the world.”

Trump’s federal law enforcement official says any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen is now barred from entering the United States.

“I like him. But I don’t know,” Darweesh said of the president. “This is a policy, I don’t know.”

That includes legal permanent residents — green card holders — and visa-holders from those seven countries who are out of the United States. They cannot return to the U.S. for 90 days under the temporary ban ordered Friday by President Donald Trump.

The official says there’s an exemption for immigrants and legal permanent residents whose entry is in the U.S. national interest, but it’s unclear how that exemption will be applied. Diplomats are also exempted.

The official says visa and green card holders already in the U.S. will be allowed to stay.

The official wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the details of how Trump’s order is being put in place and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Trump’s order barred all refugees from entering the U.S. for four months, and indefinitely halted any from Syria.

He said the ban was needed to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.”

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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