Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson talks to reporters Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Photo: Ted S. Warren
Photo: Ted S. Warren

Trump fires back at judge who ruled to temporarily halt travel ban

A temporary restraining order will remain in place as U.S. District Judge James Robart considers a Washington state lawsuit against Trump's ban. If the lawsuit wins, the executive order could be permanently invalidated nationwide. 

The Department of Homeland Security released a statement Saturday afternoon, confirming that while it was in compliance with the judge's court order, it would file an emergency stay of the order at the "earliest possible time."

Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to address the issue.

Trump continued Saturday afternoon to rail against the judge on Twitter:

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Key developments: 

  • On Monday, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle against President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and high-ranking Trump Administration officials.
  • State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the lawsuit, which asks a federal court to declare the travel ban order unconstitutional.
  • Ferguson also filed a motion for temporary restraining order seeking an immediate halt to the executive order’s implementation. 
  • The president signed an order barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US for 90 days last Friday.
  • Trump has repeatedly said that the move is aimed at protecting the nation against extremists looking to attack Americans and American interests.
  • Judge Robart ruled in favor of the attorney general's request on Friday for a temporary restraining order that halts implementation of the executive order nationwide. 
  • The temporary restraining order will remain in place as Judge Robart considers the Attorney General’s lawsuit challenging key provisions of the president’s order.
  • On Saturday, the State Dept. issued a statement saying that individuals who did not have visas physically canceled may now travel if their visa is otherwise valid. The Department of Homeland Security suspended rules that flagged travelers under Trump's order.
  • If Ferguson prevails, the executive order would be permanently invalidated nationwide.

What is Washington state's lawsuit?

Ferguson announced his lawsuit Monday, becoming the first state attorney general to announce a legal action against the Trump administration over one of its policies. Minnesota joined the suit two days later.

Ferguson’s complaint asks the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington to declare key provisions of the executive order unconstitutional and illegal. 

Ferguson also filed a motion for temporary restraining order seeking an immediate halt to the executive order’s implementation. Read a full explainer on the lawsuit here. 

The attorney general argues that the executive order violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and the First Amendment’s establishment clause, infringes individuals’ constitutional right to due process and contravenes the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

Major Washington state institutions supported the lawsuit through declarations filed alongside the complaint. Microsoft and Expedia are willing to testify in this case and Amazon is seeking its legal options. 

Minnesota joined the suit Wednesday.

What is President Trump's ban?

Any non-U.S. citizen from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen is now barred from entering the United States.

Legal permanent residents -- green card and visa-holders -- from those seven countries who were out of the United States after Friday cannot return to the U.S. for 90 days.

The order also directed U.S. officials to review information as needed to fully vet foreigners asking to come to the U.S. and draft a list of countries that don't provide that information. That left open the possibility that citizens of other countries could also face a travel ban.

The immediate fallout from Trump's order meant that an untold number of foreign-born U.S. residents now traveling outside the U.S. could be stuck overseas for at least 90 days — despite holding permanent residency "green cards" or other visas.

Up to 60,000 foreigners from the seven majority-Muslim countries had their visas canceled because of the executive order, the State Department said Friday.

What happened in court on Friday?

Washington state won a temporary restraining order that temporarily halts the travel ban while the court considers the lawsuit, which aims to permanently block Trump's order. 

In court, Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell said the focus of the state's legal challenge was the way the president's order targeted Islam.

Trump has called for a ban on Muslims entering the country, and the travel ban was an effort to make good on that campaign promise, Purcell told the judge.

"Do you see a distinction between campaign statements and the executive order," Robart asked. "I think it's a bit of a reach to say the president is anti-Muslim based on what he said in New Hampshire in June."

Purcell said there was an "overwhelming amount of evidence" to show that the order was directed at the Muslim religion, which is unconstitutional.

When the judge questioned the federal government's lawyer, Michelle Bennett, he repeatedly questioned the rationale behind the order.

Robart, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush, asked if there had been any terrorist attacks by people from the seven counties listed in Trump's order since 9/11. Bennett said she didn't know.

"The answer is none," Robart said. "You're here arguing we have to protect from these individuals from these countries, and there's no support for that."

Bennett argued that the states can't sue on behalf of citizens and the states have failed to show the order is causing irreparable harm.

Robart disagreed.

"The state has met its burden of demonstrating immediate and irreparable injury," he said. "I find the TRO is in the public interest."

The state gave an economic argument that some students who pay for tuition in Washington state overseas can no longer do so under Trump’s order, meaning the state is losing money.

Lawyers for the U.S. government argued that the states don't have standing to challenge the order and said Congress gave the president authority to make decisions on national security and admitting immigrants. 

What does this mean for travelers? 

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says this means families waiting overseas can now fly to the United States. 

“If someone who may be waiting to board a plane overseas, wanting to come to the United States, has a ticket, does this apply to them now? The short answer is yes,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Can’t the Trump administration overturn this?

Gillian M. Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, told The Associated Press that the agency doesn't comment on pending litigation. 

Judge Robart’s ruling was an oral ruling, but he’s writing it down in case the government wants to appeal his ruling, which does seem likely. The appeal could put the Trump executive order back in effect. 

The judge's ruling could be appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

What's next? 

The temporary restraining order will remain in place until U.S. District Court Senior Judge James L. Robart considers the Attorney General’s lawsuit challenging key provisions of the president’s order as illegal and unconstitutional. If Ferguson prevails, the executive order would be permanently invalidated nationwide. 

The main issues before the courts are whether Trump had the authority to issue the executive order and whether it was constitutional. The constitutional questions include whether the travelers were entitled to some kind of hearing before being barred and whether their religion played any role in their treatment.

The religion issue has played out publicly with advocates and protesters claiming Trump's action was intended to ban Muslims. The president tweeted that it was not a ban on Muslims and was not about religion.

However, several of the lawsuits point out Trump's campaign rhetoric about banning Muslims and statements about making exceptions for Christians from the seven countries.

That issue presents the strongest argument for those who have the weakest legal standing in U.S. courts, such as a refugee who's never set foot in the country, according to a legal expert that talked to The Associated Press.

What about other challenges? 

Court challenges have been filed nationwide from states and advocacy groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union, several attorneys general and immigrant advocacy groups went to federal court to block Trump's action.

Washington's ACLU said it was preparing actions on Saturday.

Federal judges in Boston, Brooklyn, New York, Los Angeles and Alexandria, Virginia, issued temporary restraining orders blocking at least parts of the order.

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 would have expired as scheduled Sunday.

The Brooklyn judge on Thursday extended her order until Feb. 21, and a Justice Department lawyer said the government would ask her to throw out the case.

Further hearings are scheduled around the country to determine if temporary orders should be upheld and extended.

What do supporters of the ban say?

The president responded to criticism Monday on Twitter, saying only 109 people were detained and questioned.  

President Trump's advisor Stephen Miller defended the ban.

On CBS this morning, he said all seven countries named were identified by then-President Obama's administration as "countries of concern," but the administration did nothing to protect our borders.

"They left our borders fairly open and there were unfortunate deaths because of that, including sanctuary cities and non-enforcement of removal orders," said Miller.

House Speaker Paul Ryan also agreed with President Trump's ban. 

"President Trump is right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country," said Ryan.    

But the top Senate Republican, majority leader Mitch McConnell, avoided directly criticizing the president and said the courts would have to decide the legality of the president’s actions.

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