WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday it has suspended all actions to implement President Donald Trump’s immigration order.
“In accordance with the judge’s ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, ‘Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.’ This includes actions to suspend passenger system rules that flag travelers for operational action subject to the Executive Order,” DHS acting press secretary Gillian Christensen said in a statement.
She said DHS will resume inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the executive order.
Trump’s order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.
Also, a State Department official tells CNN the department has reversed the cancellation of visas that were provisionally revoked following the Trump administration’s travel ban — so long as those visas were not stamped or marked as canceled.
The State Department has said fewer than 60,000 visas were revoked since the signing of the order. It was not immediately clear how many from that group will continue to be without their visas because their visas were physically canceled.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted on Saturday morning, blasting the federal judge’s decision to halt his immigration order nationwide.tweeted.
US District Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee who presides in Washington state, temporarily stopped the order Friday night.
US Customs and Border Protection then alerted airlines the US government would quickly begin reinstating visas that were previously canceled, and it advised airlines that refugees in possession of US visas will be admitted as well, an airline executive said.
Trump sent out a series of tweets lamenting the ruling.
“When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!” he tweeted.
A chaotic Friday night set up a second weekend of widespread uncertainty over the controversial ban, this time with the administration on defense.
Trump’s executive order suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, the US refugee program for 120 days and indefinitely halted Syrian refugees from entering the United States.
The White House first called the judge’s order “outrageous” and then dropped that word minutes later in a second statement.
“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement. “The President’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people.”
Robart, acting in a lawsuit from Washington state and Minnesota seeking to stop the order, said the states “have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the Executive Order. ”
He said the order adversely affects residents in areas of education, employment, education and freedom to travel.
Robart’s ruling may have stung even more for the Trump administration because it came on the heels of its first legal victory over the travel ban. Hours earlier, a federal judge in Boston issued a more limited ruling that declined to renew a temporary restraining order in Massachusetts, which would have prohibited the detention or removal of foreign travelers legally authorized to come to the Boston area.
But it was the sweeping ruling from Seattle that had the federal government scrambling.
“This is exactly what we were looking for,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told CNN’s Anderson Cooper shortly after Robart’s order, adding that “we have a bucket of constitutional claims.”
“It’s Keystone Cops, the way that thing (the order) was put together,” added Ferguson, who said he was prepared to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman told CNN the agency will review the order and comply with all court orders. The State Department is working with the Department of Homeland Security to determine the effect of the stay, a State Department official said.
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. “President Trump should heed this ruling and he ought to back off and repeal the executive order once and for all.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim civil rights organization, welcomed the ruling.
“Because the Trump administration is vowing to appeal the ruling, CAIR is urging travelers to consider immediately contacting relevant airlines to inquire about rebooking their flights, with the recognition that the situation remains fluid,” the group said in a statement Saturday.
The seven affected Muslim-majority countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Customs and Border Protection told major US airlines Friday night that the government is reinstating visas and is “back to business as usual” before the situation that was in place before last week’s executive order, the airline executive told CNN. Airlines were expected to start removing travel alerts from their websites and getting messages out to customers to alert them about the change.
It is possible there will be more court activity and an appeal before anyone could act on getting a visa, and it’s unclear how long it would take to obtain one.
US airlines use an automated system connected to the Customs and Border Protection database to scan passports and visas to get an instant determination if the passenger can board or not. Unless the government reinstates visas and the airlines get a “board” status, the airlines still would not allow such passengers to board.
Daniel Smith, an immigration attorney in Seattle, predicted a “flood of people trying to enter the US over the next few days” due to the legal opening.
Airlines are adjusting to the new development. On Saturday, Qatar Airways announced it will allow nationals from the seven countries affected by Trump’s travel ban and all refugees presenting a valid, unexpired US visa or green card to travel to the United States.
“I am advising clients who are in the country now — don’t leave,” Smith said. “And any clients wanting to enter the country, it’s best if you try to get in right now and then stay put if you get here.”