Donald Trump

Trump slams ‘so-called judge’ for blocking immigration ban

The ruling by US District Judge James Robart is the most comprehensive rejection of the executive order prohibiting immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 February, 2017, 9:55am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 February, 2017, 11:36pm

A Seattle judge has blocked US President Donald Trump’s week-old executive order that temporarily barred refugees and nationals from seven countries from entering the United States.

The temporary restraining order represents a major setback for Trump’s action, though the White House said it believed the ban to be “lawful and appropriate” and the US Department of Justice would file an emergency appeal.

Trump slammed the ruling in one of his regular morning Twitter calling it “ridiculous”.

Still, just hours after the ruling, US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers affected by the ban.

Trump’s January 27 order caused chaos at airports across the US as some citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were denied entry. The State Department said almost 60,000 visas were suspended due to the order. While a number of lawsuits were filed over Trump’s action, the Washington state lawsuit was the first to test the broad constitutionality of the order.

Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, explicitly made his ruling apply across the country, while other judges facing similar cases have issued orders concerning specific individuals.

He probed a Justice Department lawyer on what he called the “litany of harms” suffered by Washington state businesses and also questioned the administration’s use of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States as a justification for the ban.

Robart said no attacks had been carried out on US soil by people from the countries affected by the ban since that day. For Trump’s order to be constitutional, he said, it had to be “based in fact, as opposed to fiction”.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee celebrated the decision as a victory for the state, adding: “No person – not even the president – is above the law.”

But in his tweets, Trump vowed to reverse the decision.

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

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

Within hours of Robart’s ruling, major carriers, including Qatar Airways, Air France, Iberia and Lufthansa all began letting travellers from supposedly banned countries on board their planes.

Budget airline Norwegian, which operates transatlantic flights including from London and Oslo, said uncertainties remained about the legal position and advised passengers to contact the US embassy before flying.

“It’s still very unclear,” said spokeswoman Charlotte Holmbergh Jacobsson. “We have to ­follow the US rules.”