US judge rules Trump travel ban ‘unlawful’

  • Seattle judge blocks travel ban
  • Visas reportedly being reinstated following talks between airlines and US Customs and Border Protection
  • White House to appeal ‘outrageous order’
  • Sanctions on 13 Iranians and a dozen companies
  • US destroyer stationed off Yemen coast
  • Donald Trump signs executive orders on financial regulation

WASHINGTON, Feb 5: Donald Trump’s travel ban on individuals from seven Muslim majority countries has been thrown into doubt by a judge who ruled that it was unlawful.

US District Judge James Robart upheld cases brought by two states – Washington and Minnesota – and granted an order effectively suspending the order issued by Mr Trump on Jan 27.

His ruling  contradicted a judgment in Boston.

Within hours of the Seattle ruling, Mr Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer issued a strongly worded statement saying that the administration would appeal what he initially described as the judge’s “outrageous order”.

But while the White House signalled its determination to fight the ruling, Customs and Border Protection was reported to have told airlines that it was in the process of reinstating the visas which had been rescinded by President Trump’s executive order.

Judge Robart, who was appointed to his position by George W Bush, said the states who brought the case had demonstrated that the executive order had caused “immediate and irreparable injury”.

The case was the latest in a salvo of legal challenges to the ban on travellers from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen.

It also suspended the US refugee programme.

A court in Virginia had been told that Mr Trump’s order, which triggered a global backlash and demonstrations across the US and worldwide, led to 100,000 visas being revoked. An administration official later put the figure at fewer than 60,000.

Mr Spicer made it clear that the administration had no intention of backing down.

“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” he said.

But the ruling and the Department of Justice’s intention to challenge it is likely to add to the confusion which has engulfed airports across the country.

Over the past week, the problems have been exacerbated by differing interpretations of the order.

At one point, it was being enforced not only on citizens from the named countries, but also dual nationals – including Britons. Somali-born Sir Mo Farah, who now lives in the US, feared he would not be allowed back into the country.

While the White House relented on dual nationals, other travellers have still encountered difficulties. They included Kjell Magne Bondevik, a former Norwegian prime minister, who was detained for an hour at an airport in Washington because he had an Iranian visa in his passport.

The confusion over the ruling was just one of a series of problems to beset the Trump administration.

Earlier in the evening, the White House announced it was to investigate how details of Mr Trump’s calls to the leaders of Australia and Mexico were leaked.

The White House faced huge embarrassment after it emerged that Mr Trump had cut off his call with Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian prime minister, after only 25 minutes.

There was  further embarrassment when Associated Press published a partial transcript of a call in which Mr Trump told  Enrique Peña Nieto,  Mexico’s president, that he was ready to send US troops across the border to deal with “bad hombres down there”.

Mr Trump suffered another blow when Vincent Viola, a Wall Street trader who had been nominated for the post of secretary of the Army, withdrew his name from consideration.THE TELEGRAPH