President Donald Trump on Saturday hurled fresh criticism at a federal judge who temporarily blocked the president’s ban on travel to U.S. territory from seven predominantly Muslim countries, warning that the ruling would allow “many very bad and dangerous people into our country.”
Trump’s verbal fusillade targeted U.S. Judge James Robart, 69, a jurist in the northwest state of Washington known for his conservative legal views. Robart was appointed to the federal bench in 2004 by former President George W. Bush.
“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 U.S.,” Trump tweeted. Earlier Saturday, he called Robart’s decision “ridiculous,” and vowed to have it overturned.
A White House statement late Friday said the Justice Department “at the earliest possible time” would “file an emergency stay of this outrageous order.” A follow-up statement was issued without the word “outrageous.”
By late Saturday, the Justice Department said the appeal had been filed.
Customs service responds
Ahead of the president’s outburst and in response to the ruling, U.S. Customs and Border Protection moved to allow travelers with valid visas to enter the country.
The U.S. State Department later confirmed the latest visa policy and promised to release further information as soon as possible.
“We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769. Those individuals with visas that were not physically canceled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid,” the official said. “We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and our legal teams.”
By midmorning Saturday, several major airlines, including Air France, British Airways and allied carrier Emirates had begun allowing passengers from the seven countries cited in the executive order to board planes destined for U.S. territory.
Because of the uncertainty over whether the Justice Department would be granted an emergency freeze of Friday’s order, those who could travel immediately scrambled for flights.
Rula Aoun, director of the Arab American Civil Rights League in Dearborn, Michigan, told The Associated Press on Saturday that her group was advising people to hurry to board U.S.-bound flights. “We’re telling them to get on the quickest flight ASAP,” she said.
The Michigan group also filed a lawsuit last week against the executive order.
On Saturday, as thousands of travelers from the seven previously affected countries sought flights, refugees were left in limbo.
Somali refugee Nadir Hassan told the AP about 140 refugees whose resettlement in the U.S. had been blocked by Trump’s executive order were sent back to their refugee camp, and it was unclear whether or when they could travel.
The group had been expected to settle in the U.S. this week, but Hassan said the group was relocated back to the to Dadaab camp in eastern Kenya on Saturday from the International Organization for Migration transit center in Nairobi, where they had been staying.
States sue Trump
The U.S. court ruling in Seattle on Friday said the states of Washington and Minnesota had legal standing to challenge the president’s executive order, which suspended U.S. entry of all refugees for 120 days, banned Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked people from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia from entering the U.S. for three months.
The state had filed the legal challenge earlier this week, and Minnesota quickly joined the lawsuit. The two states won a restraining order while the court considers the lawsuit.
“The Constitution prevailed today,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson told reporters Friday. He said the ruling immediately halted nationwide what he called “President Trump’s unconstitutional and unlawful executive order.”
“The law is a powerful thing,” he continued. “It has the ability to hold everybody accountable to it, and that includes the president of the United States.”
The State Department said fewer than 60,000 visas had been provisionally canceled as a result of Trump’s executive order banning travel from the seven countries.
The number conflicted with one released earlier by Department of Justice lawyers, who said more than 100,000 visas had been revoked after the people they were issued to were blocked from traveling to the U.S.
The State Department said the higher figure included diplomatic and other visas that were exempted from the ban.