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Legal Matters

U.S. Appeals Judge’s Order Blocking Trump Travel Ban

The U.S. Justice Department has filed an appeal to reinstate President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, as well as all refugees, from entering the United States.

The legal maneuver late on February 4 comes hours after Trump lashed out at Judge James Robart in Seattle, who had blocked the executive order, labeling him on Twitter a "so-called judge" and dismissing his "opinion" as "ridiculous."

The decision, Trump wrote, "will be overturned."

Hours later, Trump returned to Twitter to continue berating the decision.

"What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into the U.S.?" he wrote.

Before the appeal, visa holders from the seven predominantly Muslim countries affected by Trump's order were urged to board U.S.-bound planes as quickly as possible, as fears mounted that the window of opportunity opened by the ruling might quickly close should the government win its motion.

"We're telling them to get on the quickest flight [as soon as possible]," said Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan.

Meanwhile, the State Department moved to resume admitting refugees, including Syrians, an official told Reuters. The first would likely arrive on February 6.


A UN spokesman told The New York Times about 2,000 refugees were ready to travel.

The three-member panel that will hear the government's appeal is expected to consist of judges appointed by Bush and two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

Trump later told reporters at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, he was confident the Justice Department would prevail in the appeal.

"We'll win. For the safety of the country, we'll win," he said.

In its filing, the Justice Department said the judge's order "second-guesses the president's national security judgment" and harmed the public by "thwarting enforcement" of the executive order.

U.S. District Court Judge Robart, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, ruled late on February 3 that the executive order could not be enforced until the case against it brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota was decided.

The restraining order is valid nationwide, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service has informed airlines to board passengers bound for the United States who hold valid visas. Visas that were physically canceled while the executive order was being enforced remain invalid.

Trump justified his January 27 order on national-security grounds, but opponents say it unconstitutionally targets people on the basis of their religion.

The executive order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen -- from entering the United States for a 90-day period, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, and indefinitely stops the processing of refugees from Syria.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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