People participate in prayers during an interfaith event and the Jummah prayer outside Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, today. (Reuters)
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SEATTLE – A federal judge in Seattle on Friday put a nationwide block on U.S. President Donald Trump’s week-old executive order barring nationals from seven countries from entering the United States.
The judge’s temporary restraining order represents a major challenge to Trump’s action, although his administration could still appeal the ruling and have the policy upheld.
The Seattle judge, James Robart, made his ruling effective immediately on Friday, suggesting that travel restrictions could be lifted straight away.
“It’s a wonderful day for the rule of law in this country,” said Washington state solicitor general Noah Purcell.
The state’s attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said: “This decision shuts down the executive order right now.”
He said he expected the federal government to honour the ruling.
The new Republican president’s order signed on January 27 triggered chaos at U.S. airports last weekend. Some travellers abroad were turned back from flights into the United States, crowds of hundreds of people packed into arrival areas to protest and legal objections were filed across the country.
The challenge was brought by the state of Washington and later joined by the state of Minnesota. The Seattle judge ruled that the states have legal standing to sue, which could help Democratic attorneys general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration.
The decision came on a day that attorneys from four states were in courts challenging Trump’s executive order. The Trump administration justified the action on national security grounds, but opponents labelled it an unconstitutional order targeting people based on religious beliefs.
The State Department said on Friday that fewer than 60 000 visas previously issued to citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen had been invalidated as a result of the order. That disclosure followed media reports that government lawyers were citing a figure of 100 000. (Reuters)