Protesters at a rally to oppose President Trump’s executive order barring people from certain Muslim nations from entering the U.S. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

If the White House is directing the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection wing to violate a court order to halt the deportation of green card holders and allow the detained to access lawyers, “the rule of law has completely broken down,” writes Trevor Timm at The Guardian. Timm, an American journalist, activist and lawyer who writes on national security and other issues, is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.

He says in The Guardian:

CNN reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the agency which oversees Customs and Border Protection, did not even know about the executive order until it was being released to the public. Nor did its lawyers, who did not do a legal analysis of it until after it was in effect. DHS lawyers reportedly determined that it did not apply to green card holders and permanent residents, but the White House – led by Steve Bannon – overruled that objection and kept the restrictions on green card holders in place, allowing exemptions on a case by case basis.

Thankfully, several judges put an immediate stay on deporting legitimate green card holders stuck in airports on Saturday night and ordered those still detained get access to lawyers. But the situation got even more bizarre and Orwellian on Sunday: CBP officials at some airports – in direct violation of the court orders – were reportedly still refusing lawyer access and apparently not responding to congressional representatives who were trying to figure out what was going on.

While some immigrants were released from detention, others weren’t even allowed to see volunteer lawyers who had showed up at airports around the country to provide free representation. Democratic congressman Don Beyer tweeted on Sunday afternoon: “We have a constitutional crisis today. Four Members of Congress asked CBP officials to enforce a federal court order and were turned away.”

As MSNBC’s Chris Hayes wrote: “$64,000 question is: are they being told to violate the court order by the White House?”

At the center of the chaos is top Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, who has been called a white nationalist by U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and whom Trump installed on the influential National Security Council “as part of a radical re-shuffling of the influential White House board of advisers that usually is composed of intelligence and military officials who provide the White House with guidance,” Timm writes. He continues:

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of national intelligence were removed from the NSC. As journalist Sarah Jeong put it on Twitter, national security ‘is such an emergency you have to ban Muslims. But also let’s replace chairman of joint chiefs with some guy with a garbage website.’ “

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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