WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Donald Trump’s government moved swiftly Saturday (Feb. 4) to comply with a federal judge’s order halting his immigration ban — even as Trump denounced the judge.
The Department of Homeland Security announced it has suspended all actions to implement the immigration order and will resume standard inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the travel ban.
Also, a State Department official told CNN the department has reversed the cancellation of visas that were provisionally revoked following the President’s executive order last week — so long as those visas were not stamped or marked as canceled.
The State Department has said fewer than 60,000 visas were revoked since the signing of the order. It was not immediately clear how many from that group will continue to be without their visas because their visas were physically canceled.
Following the judge’s ruling — and before the government’s announcements Saturday morning — the International Air Transportation Association, a worldwide airline industry trade group, cited US Customs and Border Protection in telling its members to follow procedures “as if the executive order never existed.”
The whirlwind turn of events set up the nation for a second straight weekend of widespread uncertainty over the controversial ban, this time with the administration on defense.
Friday (Feb. 3) night, the White House announced the Justice Department would file an emergency motion to stop the halt, but it had yet to do so as of Saturday (Feb. 4) afternoon.
But Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday (Feb. 3) night that he was prepared to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Trump’s order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — from entering the US for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.
Federal Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee who presides in Seattle, halted the enforcement of Trump’s order Friday (Feb. 3) night, effective nationwide.
Robart, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota who sought to stop the order, said the states “have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the Executive Order. ”
He said the order adversely affects residents in areas of education, employment, education and freedom to travel.
Robart’s ruling may have stung even more for the Trump administration because it came on the heels of its first legal victory over the travel ban.
Hours earlier on Friday (Feb. 3), a federal judge in Boston issued a more limited ruling that declined to renew a temporary restraining order in Massachusetts, which would have prohibited the detention or removal of foreign travelers legally authorized to come to the Boston area.
But, it was the sweeping ruling from Seattle that had the federal government scrambling.
CBP alerted airlines Friday (Feb. 3) night that the US government would quickly begin reinstating visas that were previously canceled, and it advised airlines that refugees in possession of US visas will be admitted as well, an airline executive said.
CBP told major US airlines Friday (Feb 3) night that the government is in the process of reinstating visas and is “back to business as usual” before the situation that was in place before last week’s executive order, the airline executive told CNN. Airlines were expected to remove travel alerts from their websites and get messages out to customers to alert them about the change.
It is possible there will be more court activity and an appeal before anyone could act on getting a visa, and it’s unclear how long it would take to obtain one.
US airlines use an automated system connected to the Customs and Border Protection database to scan passports and visas to get an instant determination if the passenger can board or not.
Unless the government reinstates visas and the airlines get a “board” status, the airlines still would not allow such passengers to board.
Airlines were adjusting to the new developments Saturday (Feb. 4). Qatar Airways announced it will allow nationals from the seven countries affected by Trump’s travel ban and all refugees presenting a valid, unexpired US visa or green card to travel to the United States.