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Trump’s travel ban: All you need to know about US President’s immigration order

world Updated: Feb 06, 2017 08:02 IST
Donald Trump

Crowds gather in protest of the Donald Trump administration in front of Stonewall Inn in New York City.(AFP Photo)

A move by President Donald Trump’s administration to appeal a federal court order, suspending its contentious travel ban is the latest twist in what could be a long, high-stakes legal battle.

Here are the main facts about Trump’s executive order and the court action surrounding the case:

Executive order

The January 27 decree prohibits entry to all refugees, regardless of nationality, for 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.

It also suspended the issuance of visas for 90 days to migrants or visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Read more

Federal court action

Judge James Robart of the federal district court in Seattle on Friday ordered the nationwide suspension of the President’s order.

His ruling stands until the court can study a complaint filed by the Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson. Critics, including Ferguson, say the measure unfairly targets Muslims.

Groups of demonstrators against the immigration rules implemented by US President Donald Trump's administration, rally at Los Angeles international airport in Los Angeles, California. (Reuters Photo)

Federal judges in several other states -- notably California and New York -- have also ruled against Trump’s executive order, but Robart’s ruling has by far the greatest sweep.

Trump attacked the judge in a string of fiery Twitter posts on Saturday.

“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” the president wrote.

Travel ban lifted... for now

“Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid,” a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday.

Read | Ban on travel ban: Fly to US immediately, legal volunteers recommend

And the Department of Homeland Security, which has authority over border police, said it was reverting to “standard policy and procedure”.

Was the federal ruling unusual?

Not really. The suspension of Trump’s order is reminiscent of the reaction to Barack Obama’s executive order of November 2014, which sought to protect from deportation more than four million undocumented immigrants who had been in the country for at least five years.

A federal judge in Texas ruled that Obama had overstepped his powers and blocked the order’s implementation. That decision survived an appeal and reached the Supreme Court. Obama ultimately had to give in on what had been a key measure of his second term.

The appeal

Late Saturday, the Justice Department officially challenged Robart’s ruling.

The Trump administration filed an emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals saying that suspending the ban was causing “irreparable harm” to the American public.

It also argued that Robart had run afoul of constitutional separation of powers, and “second-guesses the President’s national security judgment”.

The January 27 decree signed by Trump prohibits entry to all refugees, regardless of nationality, for 120 days, and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely. (AP File Photo)

If the appeals court upholds Robart’s ruling, the case could go to the Supreme Court, said Peter Spiro, a law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“It could go very, very fast,” he added.

But for now, the Justice Department is operating without a permanent boss: Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick as US attorney general, has yet to be confirmed by the full Senate.

Ban remains crippled

Early Sunday morning, the federal appeals court rejected the government’s request to immediately reinstate the travel ban.

Judges William Canby Jr. and Michelle Friedland did not give a reason in their two-paragraph ruling.

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But they told the states of Washington and Minnesota, which had filed the original suit against the ban, to provide supporting documents by 11:59pm Sunday (0759 GMT Monday).

And the Justice Department was given until 3:00pm on Monday (2300 GMT) to supply more documents bolstering its position.

Lessons to learn?

Legal experts said Trump’s attack on Robart was unusual.

“It’s not exactly contempt of court, but it certainly is contemptuous, and it conveys a lack of respect for the independent judiciary,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar and Harvard Law professor.

People protest against President Donald Trump as they gather at the entrance to the Mar-a-Lago Resort where he is staying for the weekend, in Palm Beach, Florida. (AFP Photo)

For Spiro, the Temple law professor, Trump made a mistake by mocking Robart as a “so-called judge”.

“That’s not something that judges like,” he said.