U.S. ends enforcement of travel ban after judge’s ruling



People continue to protest President Donald Trump’s travel ban on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times/TNS)


The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that it had suspended “any and all actions” related to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries and his halt on refugees coming into the U.S.

The announcement came after a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order against the major parts of Trump’s executive order, effective nationwide, in response to a lawsuit filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota.


“DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure,” the department’s statement said.

The State Department, which had “provisionally revoked” 60,000 visas since the president signed his Jan. 27 order, said Saturday that it had started accepting those visas from people in the countries affected.

Trump’s White House has said it will ask for an emergency stay of the judge’s order, and argued that the president’s actions were lawful.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump posted on Twitter.

Some travelers in countries affected by the suspension already were being allowed to board planes headed to the U.S., as foreign airlines started telling passengers Saturday that the immigration ban had been lifted.

“Visitors with a passport issued by 7 countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — and holding a valid immigrant or non-immigrant visa for the U.S. are again allowed to travel to the U.S.A.,” German airline Lufthansa said in a message to passengers.

But the airline, like others, also expressed caution. “Short notice changes to the immigration regulations may occur at any time. The final decision regarding immigration lies with the U.S. authorities,” it said.


In Washington, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi applauded the move to halt enforcement of the ban.

“This administration’s recklessness has already done significant harm to families, and undermined our fight against terror,” she said in a statement. “For the sake of our values and the security of America, Democrats will continue to press for this dangerous and unconstitutional ban to be rescinded or overturned.”

The lawsuit argued that the president’s actions had amounted to religious discrimination against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

The judge did not address the substance of those legal arguments, but suggested in court that the states had a good chance of winning their case.

The Trump administration has argued that the travel ban was intended to help guard against terrorism as better, “extreme vetting” procedures were put into place.

“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the executive order of the president, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” a White House statement said. “The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people.”

Legal experts said the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would review any request from the White House for a stay, may not be friendly to it.

“The 9th Circuit has a group of three judges who sit together all month hearing any motions that get filed …. The motions panel looks like a very good panel for the plaintiffs, but we’ll see what happens,” said Margo Schlanger, a law professor at the University of Michigan who was the head of civil rights for the Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama.

Schlanger predicted a long court battle that could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Already, several federal courts have issued emergency stays against portions of the executive order as dozens of lawsuits proceed against it.

For the moment, activists and state officials opposed to Trump’s move celebrated.

“The law is a powerful thing. It has the ability to hold everyone accountable to it, and that includes the president of the United States,” Washington state Attorney Gen. Bob Ferguson said at a news conference after the court decision.

The Seattle judge’s order goes further than a ruling earlier this week from a Los Angeles federal judge that also suspended Trump’s immigration ban. The latest ruling orders a temporary stop to nearly every major portion of the administration’s action, including the 120-day ban on all refugee admissions, indefinite suspension of the admission of Syrian refugees, and preference for refugees who are members of persecuted religious minorities. Also affected is a blanket, 90-day block on admission of citizens from the seven countries.

Civil rights and refugee advocates were cautious and said they would keep fighting the president’s order.

“The government must comply with this court order, but it’s only a temporary solution. Congress must step in immediately to block this dangerous and discriminatory Muslim ban for good,” Amnesty International USA spokesman Eric Ferrero said in a statement.

(Kaleem reported from Los Angeles and Bengali reported from Mumbai, India. Times staff writers Lisa Mascaro and Tracy Wilkinson in Washington and special correspondents Rick Anderson in Seattle and Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran contributed to this report.)


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