Trump to overturn ‘so-called’ judge’s ban

Citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries banned from the United States by President Donald Trump can resume boarding US-bound flights, major airlines say, after a Seattle judge blocked the executive order.

The ruling gave hope to some Middle East travellers but left them unclear how long the new travel window might last. Trump denounced the judge on Twitter on Saturday and said the decision would be quashed.

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

The travel ban, which Trump says is needed to protect the US against Islamist militants, has sparked travel chaos around the world and condemnation by rights groups who have called it racist and discriminatory.

“Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!” Trump tweeted. “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!”

In the wake of Friday’s ruling, Qatar Airways was the first to say it would allow passengers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to resume flying to US cities if they had valid documents.

Fellow Gulf carriers Etihad and Emirates said they would do the same, as did Air France, Spain’s Iberia and Germany’s Lufthansa. Officials in Lebanon and Jordan said they had received no new instructions on the issue.

The White House said it planned to appeal as soon as possible.

Two Sudanese travellers told Reuters they were trying to travel as soon as possible, fearing the ban might be reinstated.

US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers affected within hours of Friday’s ruling, but budget airline Norwegian, which operates transatlantic flights including from London and Oslo, said many uncertainties remained about the legal position.

In Cairo, aviation sources said Egypt Air and other airlines had told their sales offices of Friday’s ruling and would allow people previously affected by the ban to book flights.

But for some who had changed their travel plans following the ban, the order was not enough reassurance.

Trump’s order caused chaos at airports across the United States last week. Virtually all refugees were also barred, upending the lives of thousands of people who had spent years seeking asylum in the US

The State Department said on Friday that almost 60,000 visas were suspended following Trump’s order.

The Washington state lawsuit was the first to test the broad constitutionality of Trump’s executive order. Judge James Robart, a George W Bush appointee, explicitly made his ruling apply across the country, while other judges in similar cases have so far issued orders concerning only specific individuals.

The challenge in Seattle was brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota. The judge ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration.

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