Washington, (IANS) A federal judge in Washington state 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.
Following the ruling on Friday, government authorities immediately began communicating with airlines and taking steps that would allow travel by those previously barred from doing so, the Washington Post quoted a US official as saying.
At the same time, though, the White House said in a statement that the Justice Department would “at the earliest possible time” file for an emergency stay of the “outrageous” ruling from the judge. Minutes later, it issued a similar statement omitting the word “outrageous”.
“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.
In his opinion, US District Judge James L. Robart in Seattle, wrote that “fundamental” to the court’s work was “a vigilant recognition that it is but one of three equal branches of our federal government”.
“The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfil its constitutional role in our tripart government,” he wrote.
Robart, a judge appointed by George W. Bush, granted a request from lawyers for the state of Washington who had asked him to stop the government from acting on critical sections of Trump’s order.
He said in his written order that US officials should stop enforcing the key aspects of the ban: the halting of entry by refugees and citizens from certain countries.
Justice and State department officials had revealed that about 60,000 — and possibly as many as 100,000 — visas already have been provisionally revoked as a result of Trump’s order.
The sweeping ruling from the Seattle judge came just hours after a different ruling from a federal judge in Boston, who declined to renew a temporary restraining order in Massachusetts.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson hailed the case as “the first of its kind” and declared that it “shuts down the executive order immediately”.
“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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“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.”
Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, immediately hailed Robart’s order.
“This ruling is a victory for the Constitution and for all of us who believe this un-American executive order will not make us safer,” Schumer said in a statement.
Robart’s ruling will remain in effect until a definitive decision is taken on the legality of the presidential order or until a higher court decides to lift the restraining order.
Trump reacted to the judicial decision with the tweet: “We must keep ‘evil’ out of our country!”
His executive order stipulates a temporary pause in admission of refugees, a 90-day prohibition on entry of residents from the seven Muslim-majority nations, and an indefinite suspension on the admission of Syrian refugees.