In what has been an almost complete reversal of Trump's immigration executive order, following Friday night's ruling by a Washington Judge to halt Trump's travel ban, on Saturday morning the Department of Homeland Security announced that "in accordance with the judge's ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States."
"This includes actions to suspend passenger system rules that flag travelers for operational action subject to the Executive Order. DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy procedure."
However, keeping the defiant tone, the DHS also said that "at the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the President's Executive Order, which is lawful and appropriate. The Order is intended to protect the homeland and the American people, and the President has no higher dury and responsibility than to do so."
That may be true, although at this point an "epic court battle", including a Supreme Court showdown now appears inevitable.
As a reminder, on at least two occasions today, Trump launched a full-court attack against Washington Federal Judge Robart who ruled for a nationwide halt to Trump's immigration ban. As reported previously, following the latest dramatic twist in the ordeal surrounding Trump's Immigration Executive Order, when on Friday night Seattle Federal Judge Robart (appointed by George W. Bush in 2003) blocked Trump's travel ban from seven Muslim countries, the White House promptly responded by stating that it intends to file an emergency stay of this "outrageous order and defend the executive order of the President, which we believe is lawful and appropriate."
Earlier, on Friday night, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson disagreed when he greeted Robart's ruling saying “It is not the loudest voice that prevails on the Constitution,” and added "we are a nation of laws, not even the president can violate the Constitution. It's our president's duty to honor this ruling and I'll make sure he does."
And so, with Trump's Executive Order now a constitutional matter and almost certainly headed to the Supreme Court, where the judicial opinion of Trump's recent appointment Neil Gorsuch will soon be tested, on Saturday morning Trump wasted no time to attack "the opinion of so-called Judge" Robart, which Trump said "essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country" and warned the ruling "is ridiculous and will be overturned!"
He prefaced this warning for a showdown by saying that "when a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security - big trouble!" and defending his decision by invoking other Middle-eastern nations who allegedly "agree with the ban" (using a word which Sean Spicer would have preferred he did not as he will be brutalized by the press corps for it on Monday).
When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security - big trouble!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it's death & destruction!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
Then, on Saturday afternoon, Trump doubled down against the judicial decision:
What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
Adding "Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision"
Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 4, 2017
As expected, Trump himself was immediately attacked on social media for his "so-called" hint he disagrees with the separation of powers as per article III, section 1 of the Constitution which, as a reminder, reads: "Judicial power of the US shall be vested in the Courts." Others have asked, rhetorically, what would happen if the situation was reversed:
Imagine if a federal judge called Trump the "so-called president"? pic.twitter.com/IWCJYZC0oZ— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) February 4, 2017
POTUS's attack on Judge Robart shows a disdain for an ind. judiciary that doesn't bend to his wishes & lack of respect for the Constitution.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 4, 2017
If Trump can call Robart a "so-called" judge, can we call him -- with infinitely better justification -- a "so-called" president?— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) February 4, 2017
Meanwhile, as we prepare for the dramatic showdown and the fate of Trump's executive order is soon set to play out inside the Supreme Court of the United States, Reuters added that the State Department issued a statement in which it said that the DOJ informed it of the Washington state court ruling barring the U.S. government from enforcing certain provisions of Executive Order 13769, and thus "we have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769. Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid."
In other words, any travelers from the seven countries who have active visas, can once again enter the US. The department adds that it is "working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and our legal teams" and will provide "further updates as soon as information is available."
This means that entry for citizens from the seven formerly banned nations are once again permitted, and thus they can resume boarding U.S.-bound flights, major airlines said on Saturday, after a Seattle judge blocked the executive order. As Reuters adds, the ruling gave hope to some Middle East travelers but left them unclear how long the new travel window might last. Trump denounced the judge on Twitter and said the decision would be quashed.
In the wake of Friday's ruling, Qatar Airways was the first to say it would allow passengers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to resume flying to U.S. cities if they had valid documents.
Fellow Gulf carriers Etihad and Emirates said they would do the same, as did Air France, Spain's Iberia and Germany's Lufthansa. Officials in Lebanon and Jordan said they had received no new instructions on the issue.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travelers affected within hours of Friday's ruling, but budget airline Norwegian, which operates transatlantic flights including from London and Oslo, said many uncertainties remained about the legal position. "It's still very unclear," spokeswoman Charlotte Holmbergh Jacobsson said. "We advise passengers to contact the U.S. embassy ... We have to follow the U.S. rules."
In Cairo, aviation sources said Egypt Air and other airlines had told their sales offices of Friday's ruling and would allow people previously affected by the ban to book flights.
As a result, following the Friday ruling, travelers from affected countries are delighted, and rushing to get to the US: "Ibrahim Ghaith, a Syrian barber who fled Damascus in 2013, told Reuters in Jordan: “Today we heard that the measures may have been abolished but we are not sure if this is just talk. If they go back on the decision, people will be overjoyed." Iraqi refugee Nizar al-Qassab told Reuters in Lebanon: "If it really has been frozen, I thank God, because my wife and children should have been in America by now." The 52-year-old said his family had been due to travel to the United States for resettlement on Jan. 31. The trip was cancelled two days before that, and he was now waiting for a phone call from U.N. officials overseeing their case. "It's in God's hands," he said."
Two Sudanese travellers told Reuters they were trying to travel as soon as possible, fearing the ban might be reinstated.
“I’m in a race against time," said a 31-year-old female academic who declined to be named for fear of any consequences.
"Today I face a real problem in Khartoum because the international airlines are refusing to sell me a ticket to travel for fear of contradicting the President’s decision. Now I am going from one airline company to another to convince them about the court’s decision,” she said.
A 34-year-old Sudanese engineer, who also did not want to be named, said: "After the court’s decision I am now trying to leave as fast as possible before the situation changes once more."
The State Department said on Friday that almost 60,000 visas were suspended following Trump's order. It was not clear whether that suspension was automatically revoked or what reception travelers with such visas might get at U.S. airports, although according to today's State Department clarification it appears that virtually all travelers who previously had an active visa will once again be allowed into the US.