Federal judge temporarily blocks Trump travel ban

A U.S. judge on Friday temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries after Washington state and Minnesota urged a nationwide hold on the executive order that has launched legal battles across the country.

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

This temporary restraining order will remain in place as Robart considers a Washington state lawsuit against Trump’s ban, CBS affiliate KIRO reports. If the lawsuit wins, the executive order could be permanently invalidated nationwide.    

The White House issued a statement late Friday that said “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.”

On Friday night before the Seattle ruling was made public, Mr. Trump cryptically tweeted that the U.S. must “keep ‘evil’ out of our country.”   

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, issued a statement late Friday calling the Seattle ruling “a victory for the Constitution and for all of us who believe this un-American executive order will not make us safer.”

Meanwhile, in a seemingly contradictory ruling, a federal judge in Boston refused to extend a temporary injunction against Mr. Trump’s travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton late Friday declined to renew an order prohibiting the detention or removal of persons as part of Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants.

That means his seven-day, temporary injunction granted Jan. 29 will expire as scheduled Sunday. Legal battles are playing out across the U.S. as opponents of the travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations take their fight to the courtroom.

In the 21-page ruling, Gorton wrote that the lawsuit is “moot” because the people named in the lawsuit are legal permanent residents, and they do not need the protection of a restraining order, The Boston Globe reports. Since the signing of the travel ban last week, the White House has said the executive order does not apply to legal permanent residents.

A temporary restraining order had been placed last week after the American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of two University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth professors detained at Logan Airport as they returned from an academic conference.

The professors, both Iranian Muslims and lawful permanent U.S. residents, were eventually allowed to re-enter.

Gorton’s Friday ruling is a victory for the Trump administration, especially since Gorton wrote that Mr. Trump has “broad powers” to decide who can enter the country. By denying the stay, the city must enforce Trump’s order when the temporary block expires Sunday, CBS Boston reports.

The ACLU said it’s deeply disappointed in Friday’s decision. Other plaintiffs included international aid group Oxfam America and several non-citizens living in the U.S. legally.

In a related development, the State Department said Friday that up to 60,000 foreigners from seven majority-Muslim countries had their visas canceled after the executive order. That figure contradicts a Justice Department lawyer’s statement Friday during a court hearing in Virginia about the ban. The lawyer in that case said that about 100,000 visas had been revoked.

The State Department clarified that the higher figure includes diplomatic and other visas that were actually exempted from the travel ban, as well as expired visas.