Seattle judge temporarily halts Trump’s travel ban after hearing arguments it unlawfully discriminated against Muslims and caused unreasonable harm.
Customs officials have reportedly told US airlines that they can board passengers who had been barred from entering the country after a federal judge in Seattle ordered a temporary halt on Donald Trump’s travel ban for refugees and people from seven predominantly-Muslim nations.
District judge James Robart granted a temporary restraining order on Friday after hearing arguments from Washington state and Minnesota that the president’s order had unlawfully discriminated against Muslims and caused unreasonable harm.
It was not immediately clear whether authorities would comply with the broad order, especially after officials reacted in confusion a week earlier, detaining valid visa holders and arguing with lawyers.
Late on Friday, the White House released a statement saying that it would seek an emergency stay against Robart’s ruling; an earlier request for a stay by a justice department attorney had been denied by the judge.
“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, 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,” press secretary Sean Spicer said. In a second “updated” statement, the White House removed the word “outrageous”.
The justice department later said it would not immediately file for an emergency stay, at least on Friday night, and reports said Customs and Border Protection (CBP) had informed US airlines that they should board travelers who had been barred by an executive order last week.
CBP did not reply to repeated questions seeking more information, and a duty officer who answered a phone call referred questions to headquarters.
At San Francisco’s international airport, the duty manager said officials there had received no instructions from the government so far. “We’re just waiting to find out how the law’s changing and morphing,” the manager said. “People are just coming and going. We’re hoping it works out well for everyone.”
Washington state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, hailed the decision as an important victory against the White House.
“We are a nation of laws. Not even the president can violate the constitution,” Ferguson told reporters outside the courtroom. “No one is above the law, not even the president.”
“This decision shuts down the executive order immediately, shuts it down,” he added. “That relief is immediate, happens right now. That’s the bottom line.”
In a statement, the state department said it did not immediately know how to comply. “We are working closely with the Dept of Homeland Security and our legal teams to determine how this affects our operations.” A DHS spokeswoman said that the agency would not comment: “As a matter of policy, we do not comment on pending litigation.”
In his order, Robart wrote that the states had shown “immediate and irreparable injury” caused by Trump’s order.
“The executive order adversely affects the states’ residents in areas of employments, education, business, family relations, and freedom to travel,” he wrote. He then issued nationwide restraining stops to several sections of Trump’s executive order: its 90-day ban on visa-holders from seven nations, its indefinite ban on Syrian refugee admissions, and its 120-day ban on the entire refugee program.
“The work of the court is not to create policy or judge the wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches,” Robart wrote. “The work of the judiciary, and this court, is limited to ensuring that the actions taken by the other two branches comport with our country’s laws, and more importantly, our constitution.”
Robart’s order represents the first major challenge to the Trump administration, which is expected to appeal to a higher court. His ruling does not permanently overturn the president’s order, nor does it rule on its longer-term directives to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Last week, after judges ordered Customs and Border Protection officials to stop deporting travelers with valid visas, enforcement remained confused for days. The Department of Homeland Security said that its officials would comply with court orders, but attorneys said that “rogue” agents continued to detain and even coerce detained travelers into signing away green cards.
What is your opinion? Do you approve this ruling?