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5 Feb 2017

Trump erupts on judge - Temporary order forces US to reopen borders, White House vows to file appeal

Muslims pray during a demonstration at JFK airport in New York on
Friday  to protest Trump’s immigration ban. The Islamic Leadership
Council of New York and the New York Immigration Coalition
sponsored the afternoon event and invited those of all faiths to join.
(AFP)
New York Times News Service and Reuters, TT, New York, Feb. 4: A federal court order has reopened for the time being America's borders to visa holders from seven predominantly Muslim countries, prompting President Donald Trump to mount a harsh personal attack on the judge.
Judge James Robart in Seattle declared that "there's no support" for the administration's argument that "we have to protect the US from individuals" from the affected countries - Iran, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Libya.
Following the court order, the state department reversed its cancellation of visas for people from the affected countries and small numbers of travellers began venturing to airports to try to fly to the US.
But Trump tweeted today: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"
Trump posted the early-morning tweet from his waterfront Florida resort, where he is spending the first getaway weekend of his presidency.
The White House appeared determined to have Judge Robart's ruling struck down swiftly. In his first statement on the matter on Friday evening, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, described the judge's action as "outrageous". Minutes later, the White House issued a new statement deleting the word "outrageous".
Trump's Twitter post showed no such restraint. The outburst recalled the attacks he made during the presidential campaign on a judge in California who was presiding over a class-action lawsuit involving Trump University.
Until now, Trump had been comparatively restrained about the multiple federal judges who have ruled against parts of his immigration order, even as he staunchly defended its legality.
Some analysts had speculated that he did not want a repeat of the storm during the campaign when he accused Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel of having a conflict of interest in the Trump University case because the judge's family was of Mexican heritage. Trump, who had painted Mexicans as rapists and criminals, settled that case after the election.
But today, Trump let loose, declaring in another tweet: "When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot, come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security - big trouble!"
In a third message, he asserted, without evidence, that some Middle Eastern countries supported the immigration order. "Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban," he wrote. "They know that if certain people are allowed in it's death & destruction!"
Courts around the US have halted aspects of Trump's temporary ban on travel from the seven countries, but the Seattle ruling was the most far-reaching to date.
The judge's ruling is temporary, putting policy on hold at least until the government and opponents of the order have had a chance to make full arguments, or until the administration won a stay. It is not unusual for district courts to issue nationwide injunctions blocking executive actions, and the federal government must obey such injunctions even when other district courts have declined to issue injunctions in similar cases.
Judge Robart temporarily barred the administration from enforcing two parts of Trump's order: its 90-day suspension of entry into the US of people from the seven countries and its limits on accepting refugees, including "any action that prioritises the refugee claims of certain religious minorities".
Airlines, citing American customs officials, were telling passengers from the seven countries that their visas were once again valid. Those carriers, however, have yet to report an uptick in travel, and there appeared to be no rush to airports by visa holders intent on making their way to the US before the ruling could be stayed.
Officials advised travellers to wait for further clarity.
In a Virginia courtroom, spectators gasped when a lawyer for the government said more than 100,000 visas had been revoked as part of Trump's order. An official later said it was "fewer than 60,000" and sought to put the figure in context by adding that the US issued 11 million visas in 2015.

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