WASHINGTON – The US government has suspended enforcement of President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigration ban and scurried to appeal a judge’s order.
In latest development, the US federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration’s request to immediately reinstate a travel ban blocked by a federal judge on Friday, according to the BBC.
The ban targeted people from seven mainly Muslim countries. State lawyers had argued it was unconstitutional and discriminatory.
The stand-down, a day after a federal judge in Washington state temporarily blocked the ban, marked an extraordinary setback for the White House, plunging the new administration into a crisis that has challenged Trump’s authority – and ability to fulfill campaign promises.
Only a week ago, the president had acted to suspend US refugee program and halt immigration to the US from seven Muslim-majority countries that the government said raise terrorism concerns.
As the White House worked to reinstate the ban, Trump mocked U.S. District Judge James Robart as a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” ruling “will be overturned.”
Trump’s direct attack recalled his diatribes during the campaign against a federal judge of Mexican heritage who was overseeing a Trump University case. Justice Department lawyers could be called upon to answer for his words as the travel ban case reaches the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The order had caused unending confusion for many foreigners trying to reach the United States, prompted protests across the United States and led to multiple court challenges. Demonstrations took place outside the White House, in New York and elsewhere.
Robart’s ruling, which the Justice Department promised to challenge, led federal agencies to unwind enforcement of Trump’s executive order.
The State Department, after initially saying that as many as 60,000 foreigners from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen had their visas canceled, reversed course on Saturday and said they could travel to the US if they had a valid visa.
The department has advised refugee aid agencies that refugees set to travel before Trump signed his order will now be allowed into the United States.
The Homeland Security Department no longer was directing airlines to prevent visa-holders affected by Trump’s order from boarding US-bound planes. The agency said it had “suspended any and all actions” related to putting in place Trump’s order, which the White House argued was “intended to protect the homeland.”