The US justice department has appealed a temporary block of Donald Trump’s immigration ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, as the US president unleashed fiery statements towards the judge who stopped implementation of the order.
Speaking in Florida, Trump said he was sure that the department would win the appeal filed against US District Judge James Robart’s order in Seattle late on Saturday.
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“We’ll win. For the safety of the country, we’ll win,” he told reporters at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.
Trump’s personal attack on Robart was harsh, as the president took to Twitter, accusing him of making a decision that “takes law-enforcement away” from the US and of opening up “the country to potential terrorists”.
Robart said, while issuing his order, that the president was undermining an institution designed to check the power of the White House and Congress.
It is unusual for a president to attack a member of the judiciary.
Debbie Hines, a former Baltimore city prosecutor, told Al Jazeera that the judge who took the decision to block the ban knew that it was unconstitutional and un-American.
“[Trump] cannot overturn this order by himself. It has to go through the judicial process … This is a case that ultimately could go all the way up to the Supreme Court,” she said.
“There are three branches of government in the States, and so what Mr Trump should be doing is to see how he can actually pass laws that would be legal and not trying to pursue, through the judicial process, laws that are illegal,” Hines added.
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
Despite Trump’s anger, government authorities began complying with the Robart’s ruling, reopening the borders to those with proper travel documents.
As the ban was lifted, refugees and travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who had been stopped in their tracks last weekend by Trump’s executive order scrambled to get flights to quickly enter the US.
The state department earlier said up to 60,000 people had their visas revoked as a result of Trump’s ban, although a justice department lawyer put the number at closer to 100,000.
The restrictions on all refugees and travellers from the seven countries went into effect a week ago, wreaking havoc at airports across the US and leaving travellers trying to reach the country in limbo.
The political backlash for Trump has been equally severe, with the order driving numerous mass protests.
In Washington, DC, on Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators marched from the White House to Capitol Hill, chanting “Donald, Donald, can’t you see, we don’t want you in DC!”
About 3,000 people rallied in New York, while an estimated 10,000 people turned out in London, and smaller gatherings took place in Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Barcelona.
The White House has argued that the travel bans are needed in order to prevent attacks on the US.