President Donald Trump’s 11-nation refugee ban was partially blocked by a judge who found that it violated federal rule-making requirements.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who issued one of the earliest orders halting the president’s January travel ban, said in a ruling Saturday that the Trump administration can continue to deny entry to refugees who don’t have ties to relatives or institutions in the U.S.
A worldwide suspension of refugee admissions was included in earlier versions of the president’s executive orders that were blocked by judges until the Supreme Court ruled in June that the restrictions could be enforced for immigrants lacking “bona fide relationships” to the U.S.
The refugee ban — which covers Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and North Korea — is now a separate directive from the restrictions on travelers. Robart’s ruling comes a day after a San Francisco-based appeals court concluded that the restrictions on travelers from six mostly Muslim nations amounts is illegal discrimination.
The Justice Department has argued the the refugee ban is only temporary and applies to nations that fail to adequately screen people to ensure they pose no security risk to the U.S.
The judge said at a Dec. 21 hearing that he couldn’t take it on faith that the government’s intention is not to make the policy indefinite, “when there just aren’t any assurances” that it won’t remain in place forever.
Robart issued a preliminary order Saturday finding that the resettlement agencies and civil rights groups challenging the refugee ban will probably prevail as the case plays out on their claim that the administration exceeded its authority and violated the Administrative Procedures Act.
The judge is a 2004 appointee of Republican President George W. Bush.
The case is Doe v. Trump, 17-cv-00178, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).
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