WASHINGTON — A federal judge temporarily halted President Donald Trump’s immigration executive order effective nationwide Friday, a significant setback for the controversial travel ban.
Federal Judge James Robart, who presides in Washington state and was appointed by former President George W. Bush, orally granted the temporary restraining order.
A written order was issued later in the evening, and Customs and Border Protection alerted airlines it would begin reinstating visas quickly.
“The court concludes that the circumstances brought before it today are such that it must intervene to fulfill its constitutional role in our tripartite government,” Robart wrote in the order.
The White House said the Justice Department will file an emergency request to stop it.
“At the earliest possible time, 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. The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement.
“As the law states, ‘Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.’ ”
Trump’s executive order that he signed last week suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and indefinitely halted Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.
“This is exactly what we were looking for,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said, adding “We have a bucket of Constitutional claims.”
“It’s Keystone Cops, the way that thing (the order) was put together,” added Ferguson, who said he was prepared to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
This lawsuit was brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota against the travel ban enacted by Trump’s executive order.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said the agency will review the order and comply with all court orders.
Asked for response, a Justice Department spokesman would only say, “The department looks forward to reviewing the court’s written order and will determine next steps.”
The State Department is working with the Department of Homeland Security to determine the effect of the stay, a State Department official said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer immediately hailed Robart’s order.
“This ruling is a victory for the Constitution and for all of us who believe this un-American executive order will not make us safer,” Schumer said in a statement. “President Trump should heed this ruling and he ought to back off and repeal the executive order once and for all.”
Earlier Friday, a federal judge in Boston declined to renew a temporary restraining order affecting Massachusetts that prohibited the detention or removal of foreign travelers legally authorized to come to the U.S.
The seven affected Muslim-majority countries are Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.