Court Temporarily Blocks Trump’s Travel Ban, and Airlines Are Told to Allow Passengers

A federal judge in Seattle on Friday temporarily blocked President Trump’s week-old immigration order from being enforced nationwide, reopening America’s door to visa holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries and dealing the administration a humbling defeat.

The White House vowed late Friday to fight what it called an “outrageous” ruling, saying it would seek an emergency halt to the judge’s order as soon as possible and restore the president’s “lawful and appropriate order.”

“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” the White House said. A revised statement released later omitted the word “outrageous.”

 Airlines that had been stopping travellers from boarding planes to the United States were told by the government in a conference call Friday night to begin allowing them to fly, according to a person familiar with the call but who declined to be identified because it was a private discussion. The Trump administration, however, could again block the travellers  if it were to win an emergency stay.

The federal government was “arguing that we have to protect the U.S. from individuals from these countries, and there’s no support for that,” said the judge, James Robart of Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, an appointee of President George W. Bush, in a decision delivered from the bench.

The judge’s ruling was temporary, putting Mr. Trump’s policy on hold at least until the government and opponents of the order had a chance to make full arguments, or until the administration won a stay.

“What we’re seeing here is the courts standing up to the unconstitutional ban that President Trump imposed,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the A.C.L.U. “There’s obviously more litigation to come, but this is truly good news for the many people both in this country and abroad who have been unfairly targeted on the basis of their religion by this ban.”

t is not unusual for district courts to issue nationwide injunctions blocking executive actions, and the federal government must obey such injunctions even when other district courts have declined to issue injunctions in similar cases.

Judge Robart temporarily barred the administration from enforcing two parts of Mr. Trump’s order: its 90-day suspension of entry into the United States of people from the seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and its limits on accepting refugees, including “any action that prioritizes the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.”

The order had suspended admissions of any refugees for 120 days, and of Syrian refugees indefinitely. The goal, the president said, was to evaluate the process for vetting refugees and other immigrants in order to safeguard the country against terrorism.

The order said that when immigration from the seven countries resumed, persecuted religious minorities would be given preference, and in an interview the day of the signing, Mr. Trump said the United States would give Christians from those countries priority because they had suffered “more so than others.”

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