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Seattle judge halts Trump's immigration order

Last updated on: February 04, 2017 10:08 IST
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The Seattle court verdict potentially reopens the country's door to visa holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries and dealt the Donald Trump administration a humbling defeat. But the White House has vowed to fight back.

Striking a major blow to the Donald Trump administration, a federal judge in Seattle brought the American President's executive order on immigration to a halt nationwide Friday, issuing a temporary restraining order in US District Court until further hearings can be held. 

US District Judge James Robart in Seattle on Friday ruled that the states had the standing to challenge Trump's order, which government lawyers disputed, and said they showed their case was likely to succeed.

"The state has met its burden in demonstrating immediate and irreparable injury," Robart said.

"The Constitution prevailed today," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said after the ruling. "No one is above the law -- not even the president."

"This ruling shuts down the (president's) executive order immediately -- shuts it down -- so people can travel like they did before," Ferguson said.

Robart, who was nominated to the court by President George W Bush in 2003, ruled that Ferguson had met the high standards necessary to block the executive order until the court reaches the merits of the lawsuit. 

The White House vowed late Friday to fight what it called an "outrageous" ruling, saying it would seek an emergency halt to the judge's order as soon as possible and restore the president's "lawful and appropriate order."

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

Trump's order last week sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travellers were detained. The White House has argued that it will make the country safer.

Washington became the first state to sue over the order that temporarily bans travel for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen and suspends the US refugee programme.

Earlier on Friday, a federal judge in Boston declined to extend a temporary restraining order that allowed some immigrants into the United States from countries affected by Trump's three-month ban.

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.

The State Department said on Friday that fewer than 60,000 visas previously issued to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen had been invalidated as a result of the order. That disclosure followed media reports that government lawyers were citing a figure of 100,000.

White House responds: Will seek emergency stay

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a statement following the Friday ruling:

"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."

"The president's order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people."

As the law states, "Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."

'This ruling is a victory for the Constitution'

Hailing the court ruling, Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said, "This is fantastic and critically important news. These orders are inhumane and unconstitutional."

"This ruling came from a courthouse in Seattle and it makes me so proud of my city and my state for leading the way in defence of human rights and the rule of law. Washington leads the way," Jayapal said.

Senator Charles Schumer, the Senate Minority leader, said, "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. President Trump should heed this ruling and he ought to back off and repeal the executive order once and for all."

Major Washington state institutions supported the attorney general's lawsuit through declarations filed alongside the complaint.

In their declarations, for example, Amazon and Expedia set forth the detrimental ways the executive order impacts their operations and their employees.

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