The Associated Press
SEATTLE — A U.S. judge today temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries after Washington state and Minnesota urged a nationwide hold on the executive order that has launched legal battles across the country.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle ruled against government lawyers’ claims that the states did not have the standing to challenge Trump’s order and said they showed their case was likely to succeed.
“The state has met its burden in demonstrating immediate and irreparable injury,” Robart said.
Trump’s order last week sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travelers were detained. The White House has argued that it will make the country safer, citing radical Islamic terorists.
The order bars all people hailing from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Those countries were named in a 2016 law concerning immigration visas as “countries of concern.”
The executive order also bans entry of those fleeing from war-torn Syria indefinitely.
Trump also has stopped the admission of all refugees to the United States for four months.
The order also calls for a review into suspending the Visa Interview Waiver Program, which allows travelers from 38 countries — including close allies — to renew travel authorizations without an in-person interview.
Washington became the first state to sue, with Attorney General Bob Ferguson saying the order was causing significant harm to residents and effectively mandates discrimination. Minnesota joined the suit Wednesday.
“This is a tremendous victory for the state of Washington,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.
“Thank you to AG Ferguson and his team for making the case that no person – not even the president – is above the law.”
The two states won a temporary restraining order while the court considers the lawsuit, which says key sections of Trump’s order are illegal and unconstitutional. Court challenges have been filed nationwide from states and advocacy groups, with some other hearings also held today.
“Washington has a profound interest in protecting its residents from the harms caused by the irrational discrimination embodied in the order,” Ferguson said in a brief.
Federal attorneys had argued that Congress gave the president authority to make decisions on national security and admitting immigrants.
The lawsuit says Trump campaigned on a promise to ban Muslims from coming to the U.S. and kept up that rhetoric while defending the travel ban. Lawyers pointed to dozens of exhibits of speeches and statements Trump has made.
“The executive order effectively mandates that the states engage in discrimination based on national origin and/or religion, thereby rescinding the states’ historic protection of civil rights and religious freedom,” the complaint said, calling it a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The lawsuit ultimately seeks to permanently block parts of the executive order that suspend immigration from the seven Muslim-majority countries, put the U.S. refugee admissions program on hold and halt entry of Syrian refugees.
Ferguson said the order is causing significant harm to Washington residents, businesses and its education system. It will reduce tax revenue and impose significant costs on state agencies, as well as make it impossible for some state employees and students to travel, he said.
Washington-based businesses Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft support the state’s efforts to stop the order. They say it’s hurting their operations, too.
Court action in other states:
• A judge is allowing Virginia to join a lawsuit challenging the travel ban. Today’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema greatly expands the scope of the lawsuit, which was initially focused only on legal permanent residents, commonly called green-card holders.
Brinkema indicated a willingness to consider cases involving anyone who had been issued a visa and had it revoked.
A government lawyer in the case said more than 100,000 people have had visas revoked since the ban went into effect, but the State Department later said the number was close to 60,000.
The higher figure included visas that were actually exempted by the travel ban, as well as expired visas.
• A federal judge in Boston has declined to extend a temporary injunction against President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton late Friday refused to renew an order prohibiting the detention or removal of persons as part of Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants.
That means the seven-day, temporary injunction granted Jan. 29 will expire as scheduled Sunday.
• Hawaii is suing the federal government to stop the ban.
Attorney General Doug Chin says Trump’s executive order keeps Hawaii families apart and keeps residents from traveling. He says it degrades values Hawaii has worked hard to protect.
Chin says the order also will make foreign travelers feel unwelcome, which is a problem for Hawaii’s tourism-powered economy.
Hawaii filed the lawsuit in federal court in Honolulu on Friday.
• A Brooklyn judge on Thursday extended a temporary restraining order to Feb. 21, but the Justice Department said it will ask her to throw out the case.
U.S. District Judge Carol Amon’s ruling extended a stay that had been issued Saturday by a different judge and would have expired Feb. 11. Amon extended the order to give more time the government and civil liberties organizations to file paperwork.
• A federal judge in Detroit says U.S. green-card holders shouldn’t be affected by the order.
The Arab-American Civil Rights League argued in a suit filed this week in Detroit’s U.S. District Court that the executive action is unconstitutional and targets immigrant communities.
A restraining order released today from U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts covers legal permanent residents, not some others that also are part of the lawsuit. She says lawyers for the government clarified to her that the ban doesn’t apply to “lawful” permanent residents.
• Three California university students are challenging the ban. Their federal suit, filed Thursday in San Francisco, says the ban is unconstitutional and has created hardships for the students.
It alleges that a freshman at Stanford University now can’t visit her husband in Yemen; another Yemeni at San Diego’s Grossmont College can’t resume studies there; and an unidentified University of California Berkeley doctoral candidate from Iran fears losing a job opportunity.