DHS Suspends “All Actions” On Trump Travel Ban, Reverses Visa Cancelation; Vows To Fight
In what is an almost complete reversal of Trump’s immigration executive order, which temporarily banned the entry of refugees and citizens from seven mostly Muslim nations into the US, moments ago the Department of Homeland Security announced that “in accordance with the judge’s ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the Executive Order entitled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.”
“This includes actions to suspend passenger system rules that flag travelers for operational action subject to the Executive Order. DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy procedure.”
However, keeping the defiant tone, the DHS also said that “at the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the President’s Executive Order, which is lawful and appropriate. The Order is intended to protect the homeland and the American people, and the President has no higher dury and responsibility than to do so.”
That may be true, although at this point an “epic court battle”, including a Supreme Court showdown now appears inevitable.
Furthermore, as Reuters adds, the State Department issued a statement in which it said that the DOJ informed it of the Washington state court ruling barring the U.S. government from enforcing certain provisions of Executive Order 13769, and thus “we have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769. Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.”
In other words, any travelers from the seven countries who have active visas, can once again enter the US. The department adds that it is “working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and our legal teams” and will provide “further updates as soon as information is available.”
This means that entry for citizens from the seven formerly banned nations are once again permitted, and thus they can resume boarding U.S.-bound flights, major airlines said on Saturday, after a Seattle judge blocked the executive order. As Reuters adds, the ruling gave hope to some Middle East travelers but left them unclear how long the new travel window might last. Trump denounced the judge on Twitter and said the decision would be quashed.
In the wake of Friday’s ruling, Qatar Airways was the first to say it would allow passengers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to resume flying to U.S. cities if they had valid documents.
Fellow Gulf carriers Etihad and Emirates said they would do the same, as did Air France, Spain’s Iberia and Germany’s Lufthansa. Officials in Lebanon and Jordan said they had received no new instructions on the issue.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travelers affected within hours of Friday’s ruling, but budget airline Norwegian, which operates transatlantic flights including from London and Oslo, said many uncertainties remained about the legal position. “It’s still very unclear,” spokeswoman Charlotte Holmbergh Jacobsson said. “We advise passengers to contact the U.S. embassy … We have to follow the U.S. rules.”
In Cairo, aviation sources said Egypt Air and other airlines had told their sales offices of Friday’s ruling and would allow people previously affected by the ban to book flights.
As a result, following the Friday ruling, travelers from affected countries are delighted, and rushing to get to the US: “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 United States for resettlement on Jan. 31. The trip was cancelled two days before that, and he was now waiting for a phone call from U.N. officials overseeing their case. “It’s in God’s hands,” he said.”
Two Sudanese travellers told Reuters they were trying to travel as soon as possible, fearing the ban might be reinstated.
“I’m in a race against time,” said a 31-year-old female academic who declined to be named for fear of any consequences.
“Today I face a real problem in Khartoum because the international airlines are refusing to sell me a ticket to travel for fear of contradicting the President’s decision. Now I am going from one airline company to another to convince them about the court’s decision,” she said.
A 34-year-old Sudanese engineer, who also did not want to be named, said: “After the court’s decision I am now trying to leave as fast as possible before the situation changes once more.”
The State Department said on Friday that almost 60,000 visas were suspended following Trump’s order. It was not clear whether that suspension was automatically revoked or what reception travelers with such visas might get at U.S. airports, although according to today’s State Department clarification it appears that virtually all travelers who previously had an active visa will once again be allowed into the US.