News World White House vows to fight block on travel ban
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White House vows to fight block on travel ban

White House
Travellers are scurrying to enter the US before a judge's stay on the president's travel ban can be overturned, Photo: Getty
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The White House has vowed to fight a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking US President Donald Trump’s recent executive order barring nationals from seven countries from entering the United States.

Federal Judge James L Robart granted the order on Friday in response to a request from Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to immediately halt the implementation of the travel ban. The ruling sparked a rush by visa holders from seven predominantly-Muslim countries to board US-bound flights, fearing they might have only a slim window through which to enter the country.

Those who could travel immediately were being urged to do so because of uncertainty over whether the Justice Department would be granted an emergency freeze of the order, which was issued on Friday.

The government on Saturday suspended enforcement of the week-old ban as it scurried to appeal Robart’s order, although an immigration lawyer said passengers in at least one African airport were told they couldn’t get on the planes.

Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan, said her group is advising people to hurry.

Robart’s ruling marked a major challenge to the Trump administration.

“The Constitution prevailed today,” Mr Ferguson said. “No one is above the law — not even the President.”

Mr Trump clearly disagreed, posting a series of Tweets on Saturday criticising the court ruling and blasting ”the opinion of this so-called judge”.

In a statement on Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the Department of Justice would file an emergency stay of the restraining order to defend Mr Trump’s “lawful and appropriate” executive order.

An initial White House statement described the restraining order as “outrageous”, but that word was retracted in a second revised statement.

“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” the statement said.

Statement by the Press Secretary: At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an…

Posted by The White House on 2017年2月3日

Soon after, however, the Department of Justice released a statement saying it would not file the emergency stay on Friday evening.

Until it does, the restraining order will remain in place while Judge Robart considers Mr Ferguson’s lawsuit, which seeks to invalidate the executive order on the basis it violates constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and equal protection.

If the order were to be found illegal it would be made permanently invalid nationwide.

Just hours after the ruling, US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers who had been affected by the ban.
Last week citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were denied entry.

The challenge was originally brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota.

The Seattle-based Mr Robart ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys-general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration.

The decision came on a day that attorneys from four states were in courts challenging the executive order, which prevents travel to the US from seven majority-Muslim countries, earning it the moniker ‘Muslim ban’.

So far, about 60,000 visas have been revoked as a result of the order.

Mr Trump’s administration justified the action on national security grounds, but opponents labelled it an unconstitutional order targeting people based on religious beliefs.

Amnesty International applauded the development.

”This decision is a short-term relief for thousands of people whose lives have been upended, but Congress must step in and block this unlawful ban for good,” spokesman Eric Ferrero said in a statement. “Trump’s Muslim ban is inhumane, unlawful, and discriminatory, which is why the courts and the public want it to be stopped.”

Amazon.com and Expedia, both based in Washington state, had supported the lawsuit, asserting that the travel restrictions harmed their businesses. Tech companies, which rely on talent from around the world, have been increasingly outspoken in their opposition to the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant policies.

Earlier on Friday, a federal judge in Boston declined to extend a temporary restraining order that allowed some immigrants into the United States from certain countries despite being barred by the recent executive order.

Also on Friday in Virginia, a federal judge ordered the White House to provide a list of all people stopped from entering the United States by the travel ban.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, spoke out on Twitter in support of his ban, citing Friday’s thwarted terror attack in Paris as evidence the US needed to “get smart” about immigration.

– with AAP

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