Judge deals severe legal blow to travel ban
State Department reverses visa ban, allows travellers with visas into US
US President Donald Trump lashed out Saturday at a court ruling suspending his controversial ban on travellers from seven Muslim countries, dismissing it as “ridiculous” and vowing to get it overturned.
The order blocking the ban, issued late Friday by Seattle US District Judge James Robart, is valid across the United States, pending a full review of a complaint filed by Washington state’s attorney general.
The travel restrictions, which went into effect a week ago, have wreaked havoc at airports across America, sparked numerous protests and left countless people hoping to reach the United States in limbo.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump wrote in a flurry of early morning tweets.
“When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!” Trump wrote, less than 12 hours after the ruling was issued in Seattle.
“Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!” said Trump, who was in Florida for the weekend.
The White House said in a statement late Friday that the Department of Justice would fight the court to defend the travel ban, “which we believe is lawful and appropriate.”
“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” said the statement from White House spokesman Sean Spicer.
Trump’s executive order blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entry into the US for 90 days.
Syrian refugees are barred indefinitely, and refugees from other countries are barred from entry for 120 days.
Earlier, a Seattle federal judge on Friday put a nationwide block on US President Donald Trump’s week-old executive order that had temporarily barred refugees and nationals from seven countries from entering the United States.
The judge’s temporary restraining order represents a major setback for Trump’s action, though the White House said late Friday that it believed the ban to be “lawful and appropriate” and that the US Department of Justice would file an emergency appeal.
Still, just hours after the ruling, US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers who had been affected by the ban.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department will allow people with valid visas into the United States, a department official said on Saturday, in order to comply with an opinion from a federal judge in Seattle barring President Donald Trump’s executive action. “We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas,” the State Department official said in a statement. “Those individuals with visas that were not physically canceled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.”
US Customs and Border Protection has informed US airlines that they can once again board travellers who had been barred by an executive order last week, after it was blocked nationwide on Friday by a federal judge in Seattle, an airline official told Reuters.
In a conference call at around 9 pm EST, the US agency told airlines to operate just as they had before the order, which temporarily had stopped refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Individuals from those states who have proper visas can now board US-bound flights, and airlines are working to update their websites to reflect the change, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Trump’s Jan. 27 order caused chaos at airports across the United States last week as some citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were denied entry. Virtually all refugees were also barred, upending the lives of thousands of people who had spent years seeking asylum in the US.
While a number of lawsuits have been filed over Trump’s action, the Washington state lawsuit was the first to test the broad constitutionality of the executive order. Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, explicitly made his ruling apply across the country, while other judges facing similar cases have so far issued orders concerning only specific individuals.
The challenge in Seattle was brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota. The judge ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration. Washington’s case was based on claims that the state had suffered harm from the travel ban, for example students and faculty at state-funded universities being stranded overseas. Amazon.com and Expedia, both based in Washington state, had supported the lawsuit, asserting that the travel restrictions harmed their businesses.—Agencies