In a conference call that took place at around 2100 EST on Friday, February 3, 2017, (0200 GMT, the following day), the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency informed all U.S. airlines that they can once again resume normal operations. An airline official broke the news to Reuters, letting them know that airlines were working to update their websites immediately.
This means that travelers with visas from the previously banned seven countries can now safely board airplanes and enter the country. The conference call came just hours after a federal judge in Seattle placed a nationwide block on the president’s executive order. The judge’s restraining order is temporary, but was made effective immediately while he prepares the full written ruling over the weekend.
Regarding the order to halt the travel ban, the White House said that it plans to file an emergency stay, releasing a statement that read,
“At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice 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. The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people. As the law states, ‘Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.'”
Just a few minutes after releasing that statement, the Office of the Press Secretary released a new statement that had removed the word “outrageous,” but was otherwise identical to the previous statement.
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Social media continues to show that on the internet, there’s no such thing as taking it back once you’ve released it.
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According to CNN, Department of Justice lawyers are not expected to file the appeal on Friday night, opening the gates for at least a few hours for visa holders from the seven countries covered by the executive order to enter the United States freely.
This news is another setback for the Trump administration, especially after news broke that they purposefully slow-walked court orders last week regarding the travel ban. The day after the ban was announced, federal judges in Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia issued emergency rulings that invalidated portions of the ban. However, at the international airports covered under the ruling, customs officers refused to comply with the orders, waiting to hear from superiors on how to proceed.
According to reports, Todd Owen, the executive assistant commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, delivered that clarification. However, rather than allowing detained travelers access to the hordes of lawyers waiting in the terminals to assist, the field agents were advised to give the detainees phone numbers for legal services. As it was a Sunday, most of the legal service offices were closed.
The ruling to block the nationwide ban came shortly after a Boston judge refused to extend the ban in a hearing. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton was deciding whether to extend a seven-day order that blocked portions of the executive order. According to court transcripts, because the ACLU specifically raised claims that the executive order discriminates on the basis of religion, the judge was forced to decide on the merits of the executive order’s wording, which does not raise religion as a factor. That makes Gorton’s ruling both rational and understandable by anyone.
What the appeals courts will say when the DOJ raises its appeals will largely depend on the tact and language that the government and the plaintiffs use.
[Featured Image by Ted S. Warren/AP Images]