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About three thousand demonstrators have marched near President Donald Trump’s Florida estate to protest his now-blocked executive order temporarily limiting immigration. (Feb. 4) AP
U.S.-bound migrants were seizing the opportunity to enter the United States on Sunday after a federal appeals court in San Francisco denied the Trump administration request for immediate reinstatement of a controversial, temporary travel ban.
Judges William Canby, Jr., and Michelle Friedland gave no reason in their brief ruling issued early Sunday, but ordered the states of Washington and Minnesota, which had filed suit to halt the ban, to provide a detailed explanation for their lawsuit by Monday. The Justice Department was ordered to file its response by Monday at 6 p.m. ET.
President Trump ordered the travel ban Jan. 27, one week after his inauguration. The executive order suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, halted admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and barred entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
The order immediately sparked anger and confusion across the nation as scores of incoming travelers were held up at U.S. airports and many more were halted from boarding flights bound for the U.S. Protests erupted at airports and city halls nationwide.
After days of legal wrangling, federal Judge James Robart in Seattle issued the temporary restraining order Friday night that lifted the ban nationwide. Robart, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2004, cited “immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the executive order.”
With the ban on hold at least temporarily, Cairo airport officials told the Associated Press that 33 U.S.-bound migrants from Yemen, Syria and Iraq boarded flights Sunday on their way to the United States. In Lebanon, the National News Agency reported that airlines operating out of Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport allowed citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries to board U.S.-bound planes.
In Iran, Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif reversed an earlier decision and said visas will be granted to American wrestlers to travel to Iran to attend the 2017 Freestyle World Cup.
But the fate of Trump’s executive order is far from resolved. Any decision emerging from the appeals court in coming days is likely to be appealed further. The Justice Department pressed its case in its appeal filed Saturday, accusing Robart of “judicial second-guessing of the President” that constitutes an “impermissible intrusion” into Trump’s authority.
“This is particularly true as to predictive judgments about the potential national security threat posed by a class of aliens,” the department said in its appeal. “A reviewing court would not be well-equipped to ascertain the quantum of risk, or what is a reasonable margin of error in assessing risk.”
Trump was more succinct, tweeting that the “opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!”
Still, the State Department said it was restoring tens of thousands of canceled visas for foreigners, and the Department of Homeland Security “suspended all actions” for enforcing the ban and instead began standard inspection of travelers.
The State Department on Saturday advised refugee aid agencies that refugees set to travel before Trump signed his order will now be allowed in. A State Department official said in an email obtained by the Associated Press that the government was “focusing on booking refugee travel” through Feb. 17 and working to have arrivals resume as soon as Monday.
The ACLU and other advocacy groups were urging travelers caught in limbo to act quickly. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, applauded the ruling as “another stinging rejection of President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban. We will keep fighting to permanently dismantle this un-American executive order.”
Becca Heller, director of the New York-based International Refugee Assistance Project, stressed that previously issued visas would once again be valid unless they were stamped “canceled.”
“The reinstatement of visas is the only right move to remedy the situation of the last week, which has caused havoc here in the United States and across the world,” Heller said.
Trump had a different take.
“Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision,” he tweeted.