President Donald Trump’s government moved swiftly Saturday to comply with a federal judge’s order halting his travel ban — even as Trump himself denounced the judge — but readied its legal defense of the controversial executive action.The Department of Homeland Security announced it has suspended all actions to implement the immigration order and will resume standard inspections of travelers as it did prior to the signing of the travel ban. But it said the Justice Department — which is expected to file an emergency motion to stop the order — needed to challenge the ruling “at the earliest possible time.”
“(Trump’s order) is intended to protect the homeland and the American people, and the President has no higher duty and responsibility than to do so,” acting DHS press secretary Gillian Christensen said when announcing the suspension.
But already, the nation was in the midst of a second straight weekend of widespread uncertainty over the controversial ban, this time with the administration on defense.
A State Department official told CNN the department has reversed the cancellation of visas that were provisionally revoked following the President’s executive order last week — so long as those visas were not stamped or marked as canceled.
The department transmitted a cable to all posts Saturday instructing them to resume the visa process as they had before the executive order, two senior State Department officials said.
The officials told CNN those whose visas were physically canceled would have to go to an embassy or consulate to have them reinstated. Most cancellations were done electronically and reinstated electronically, they said.
The State Department has said fewer than 60,000 visas were revoked since the signing of the order. It was not immediately clear how many from that group will continue to be without their visas because their visas were physically canceled.
Following the judge’s ruling — and before the government’s announcements Saturday morning — the International Air Transportation Association, a worldwide airline industry trade group, cited US Customs and Border Protection in telling its members to follow procedures “as if the executive order never existed.”
Trump’s order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — from entering the US for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and indefinitely halts refugees from Syria.
Federal Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee who presides in Seattle, halted the enforcement of Trump’s order Friday night, effective nationwide.
Robart, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota who sought to stop the order,said the states “have met their burden of demonstrating that they face immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the signing and implementation of the Executive Order. ”
He said the order adversely affects residents in areas of education, employment, education and freedom to travel.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson told CNN’s Anderson Cooper Friday night that he was prepared to take his case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.