ACLU attorney fighting travel ban taking government back to court

NEW YORK -- The cheers erupted the moment word spread: The ACLU had just convinced a federal judge to halt deportations of immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

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Lee Gelernt

CBS News

That was Saturday night, and lead attorney Lee Gelernt was the crowd’s hero.

“I expected there to be people outside the courtroom after we won,” he said, “but to walk out and see a thousand people cheering was just an unbelievable experience.”

U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly also ordered the government to provide the ACLU with a list of anyone being detained by Customs at U.S. airports.

But after four days, Gelernt is frustrated; The government has not provided that list.

The government says there are no names to provide, since all 109 people held over the weekend have been released.

Gelernt believes the 109 number is low, and there were actually hundreds more affected. He wants to know who they are and where they are.

“One thing we’re going to see from the list is that people were actually removed from the country after we filed the case,” he said.

“If that’s true, and we believe it is true, we will go back to court and ask those people be brought back to the United States because they could be in real danger.”

Gelernt says the end goal of the lawsuit is “to get our refugee system and our immigration system back to where they were before this Muslim ban came out.”

Lawyers are scheduled to be back in court on Thursday for a status hearing, when the judge will determine where both sides stand and what should happen next.