US authorities on Saturday suspended President Donald Trump’s controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim countries, following a court ruling that blocked its enforcement.
Explaining the development, a US State Department spokesman told Arab News: “The Department of Justice informed us of the Washington State court ruling barring the US government from enforcing certain provisions of executive order 13769, including those related to visas and travel.”
He added: “We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under executive order 13769. Those individuals with visas that were not physically canceled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid. We are working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and our legal teams. We will provide further updates as soon as information is available.”
The Department of Homeland Security, in a separate statement on Saturday, wrote: “In accordance with the judge’s ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the executive order.”
It added: “DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure,” but said that Department of Justice officials would launch an appeal “at the earliest possible time” to reinstate the ban, which the Trump administration believes “is lawful and appropriate.”
Trump, meanwhile, lashed out at the court ruling suspending his controversial ban affecting travelers from seven Muslim countries dismissing it as “ridiculous” and vowing to get it overturned.
The order, issued late Friday by Seattle US District Judge James Robart, is valid across the US, pending a full review of a complaint filed by Washington state’s attorney general.
The travel restrictions, which went into effect a week ago, have wreaked havoc at airports across America, sparked numerous protests and left countless people hoping to reach the US in limbo.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump wrote in a flurry of early morning tweets.
“Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!” Trump tweeted. “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!”
The ruling gave hope to many travelers and sent some scrambling for tickets, worried that the newly opened window might not last long.
Some travelers interviewed in Middle Eastern capitals were cautious about the news.
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 US for resettlement on Jan. 31. The trip was canceled two days before that, and he was now waiting for a phone call from UN officials overseeing their case. “It’s in God’s hands,” he said.
Two Sudanese travelers told Reuters they were trying to travel as soon as possible, fearing the ban might be reinstated. They declined to be named, for fear of possible consequences.
“I’m in a race against time,” said a 31-year-old female academic who said international airlines were still refusing to sell her a ticket. “Now I am going from one airline company to another to convince them about the court’s decision.”