Protesters wave American flags and a Yemeni flag in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall. (Photographer: Kholood Eid/Bloomberg)

Trump Immigration Order Is Grounded Nationwide by U.S. Judge

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  • (Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s immigration restrictions were temporarily shut down by a federal judge who said the states of Washington and Minnesota can sue claiming their economy and residents would be injured by the ban.

    The ruling eclipsed a Trump administration win earlier Friday when a federal judge in Boston refused to extend a temporary ruling blocking enforcement at that city’s airport of the ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle said in his ruling that voiding the president’s order throughout the U.S. was needed for consistency.

    Trump signs executive orders on Jan. 27.

    Photographer: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

    The White House said in a statement that the Justice Department would file an emergency request at the earliest possible time to freeze the judge’s ruling.

    “The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” according to the statement. After initially calling the judge’s decision “outrageous,” the White House issued a revised statement removing the word.

    The ruling is the most comprehensive legal admonishment of Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order prohibiting immigrants, students, temporary workers and others from Iran, Iraq, Syria and four additional nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Judges in Brooklyn, New York, Los Angeles and Alexandria, Virginia, have issued orders that are less sweeping. The Seattle judge also temporarily set aside Trump’s 120-day ban on refugees from those countries.

    Qatar Airways will permit citizens from the seven nations and all refugees with valid visas to board its flights for the U.S., according to a website posting on Saturday.

    Trump’s Refugee Ban and the Legal Battle Over It: QuickTake Q&A

    The decision by Robart, a 2004 appointee of Republican President George W. Bush, carries unique significance because the states were able to link Trump’s edict to its adverse economic impact, said Geoffrey Hoffman, Director, University of Houston Law Center Immigration Clinic. The order’s effect on jobs and economic stability is likely to make the temporary ruling difficult for the president to overturn before the judge considers a permanent injunction, he said.

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    “The Washington suit is so much more broad than anything else we’ve seen because it goes into the economic interests of the parties -- that’s a very big development," Hoffman said of a likely appeal by the federal government. “Appeals of temporary orders occur only in very, very extraordinary measures. I doubt it would be successful.”

    Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the effects on his state included economic consequences for employers based there, including Microsoft Corp., Starbucks Corp. and Inc. Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia Inc. had about 1,000 customers with flight reservations in or out of the U.S. from the seven countries, he said.

    Minnesota, like Washington, cited the effect of the ban on students at its colleges and universities, as well as health care centers including the Mayo Clinic. The state’s 5.4 million residents included 30,000 immigrants from the affected countries, it said in the lawsuit.

    The court order, effective immediately, will remain in place until the judge considers a motion -- probably within a month -- to permanently invalidate the president’s order, Ferguson said.

    “It is not the loudest voice that prevails on the Constitution,” he said outside the courthouse. “We are a nation of laws, not even the president can violate the Constitution.”

    Robart rejected a request by the federal government to put his temporary restraining order on hold. He said he expects the Justice Department to file an appeal as early as Monday.

    President’s Authority

    U.S. Justice Department lawyer Michelle Bennett, arguing at Friday’s hearing, said the president was acting within the authority granted him by Congress and there was no financial harm to the states.

    Trump’s policy, signed without advance notice, threw airports across America into turmoil as travelers from the affected countries who were already en route to the U.S. learned upon landing that they couldn’t leave the airport. Some of those people were lawful U.S. residents holding green cards and work visas. Some travelers were required to return to their points of origin, generating spontaneous protests at international terminals. Others were detained.

    The U.S. has provisionally revoked tens of thousands of visas of people from the seven countries, which also include Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia. A provisional revocation means the U.S. has invalidated a visa for use to travel to the U.S., the state department said. The Seattle order doesn’t specify whether those visas should be restored. CNN reported that Customs and Border Protection told U.S. airlines that it was re-instating visas after the order.

    The U.S. might restore the visa’s validity later without requiring a new application, but that could take longer than the few weeks between Friday’s order and a hearing on a preliminary injunction, said Linda Tan, director of the Easy Bay Community Law Center in Oakland.

    “There will be a large number of people who won’t just be able to get on an airplane because so much has happened in terms of visa revocation,” she said. “I’m not sure you can just give them back.”

    Trump Tweet

    Trump has argued his executive order was needed to protect Americans from terrorists. He tweeted before the judge’s decision, after referring to an attack by a knife-wielding man at the Louvre museum in Paris on Friday, “We must keep evil out of our country!”

    Earlier Friday in Virginia, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema extended to Feb. 10 a temporary restraining order barring the federal government from enforcing the president’s ban as it might apply to legal permanent U.S. residents. The judge deferred ruling on state Attorney General Mark Herring’s request that she issue an order requiring the Trump administration to account for what the Democrat contends was a failure to immediately obey court orders putting the measure on hold.

    Also on Friday, Hawaii’s Doug Chin became the sixth state attorney general to sue or support lawsuits seeking to block Trump’s order.

    David Miliband, president and chief executive officer of the International Rescue Committee, said Robart’s ruling demonstrated that Trump’s executive order wasn’t adequately thought out.

    “There is every right for the administration to review and build on existing arrangements,” Miliband said in an e-mailed statement from the refugee assistance group. “There is no excuse for tearing up carefully developed procedures that have kept America safe.”

    The case is State of Washington v. Trump, 17-cv-00141, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle). The Boston case is Loughghalam v. Trump, 17-cv-10154, U.S. District Court, Massachusetts (Boston).