A federal judge in Seattle temporarily blocked President Trump’s ban on travelers and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority nations, siding with two states that urged a nationwide stay on the executive order that has launched legal battles across the country.
U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled that Washington state and Minnesota had 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.
The Seattle court order came shortly after a federal judge in Boston refused to extend a 7-day stay on the immigration ban, saying a suit challenging the constitutionality of the order is unlikely to succeed.
“The order provides a reasonably conceivable state of facts (which concerns national security and) that could provide a rational basis for the classification,” Judge Nathaniel Gorton wrote in an order denying a motion to extend the stay.
“Accordingly, this Court declines to encroach upon the ‘delicate policy judgment’ inherent in immigration decisions.”
Shortly after news of the Boston ruling broke, Trump tweeted, “We must keep ‘evil’ out of our country.”
Trump’s executive order has sparked protests nationwide and chaos at airports as some travelers were detained. The White House has argued that it will make the country safer.
It wasn’t immediately clear what happens next for people who have waited years to receive visas to come to the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security wouldn’t comment.
The State Department has ordered 60,000 visas from the seven countries revoked. Among them are two of the plaintiffs in the Massachusetts case: Iranians Zahrasadat Mirrazi Renani, a doctoral student at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Leily Amirsardary, a footwear business owner. Both are already in the country and won’t be allowed back into the U.S. if they leave.
Washington became the first state to sue over the order that temporarily bans travel for people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen and suspends the U.S. refugee program.
Lawyers across the country have also sued to stop Trump’s executive order, but Gorton became the first judge to rule in favor of the White House.
The ACLU, representing seven Iranian nationals and the international aid organization Oxfam, argued that while campaigning, Trump repeatedly vowed to impose a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.
Last week the president told a Christian media outlet that non-Muslims refugees would be given preference. His adviser Rudy Giuliani gave a separate interview during which he said Trump had asked him to find a way to “legally” enact a “Muslim ban.”
But Joshua Press, a Justice Department attorney, insisted that there is nothing in the executive order that targets Muslims.
“They are essentially reading this as a Muslim ban because that’s what they want to see, but there’s nothing in there,” Press said
In his order, Gorton relied on the specific language in the government’s order and decided to not include statements made during and after the presidential campaign.
In a statement, the ACLU of Massachusetts said it would continue to fight the case, and is considering its legal options.
On Monday, a case brought by Iranian doctor Samira Asgari, who plans to work at Brigham and Women’s hospital studying tuberculosis, will be heard by a different federal judge in Boston.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Charlie Baker asked the Trump administration to rescind its ban, saying it would be harmful to Massachusetts’ economy.
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