Donald Trump vows to overturn 'ridiculous' immigration ruling

  • 05/02/2017

United States President Donald Trump has tweeted that he'll overturn a Seattle federal judge's nationwide block on an executive order that's temporarily barred refugees and nationals from seven countries from entering the US.

"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Mr Trump tweeted on Saturday morning (local time).

The judge's temporary restraining order represents a major setback for Mr Trump's action, although the White House said late on Friday that it believed the ban to be "lawful and appropriate" and that the US Department of Justice would file an emergency appeal.

Airlines board barred passengers

Still, just hours after the ruling, US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers who had been affected by the ban.

Qatar Airways was the first to say it would allow passengers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen to fly to US cities if they had valid documents.

Air France, Spain's Iberia and Germany's Lufthansa all followed suit after the federal judge's ruling, which the White House said it planned to appeal as soon as possible.

But the websites of two other major Gulf airlines, Etihad and Emirates, still carried notices informing passengers of Trump's original January 27 order.

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A student from Iran is greeted by family in Boston after clearing immigration (Reuters)

The travel ban, which Mr Trump says is needed to protect the US against Islamist militants, sparked travel chaos around the world and condemnation by rights groups who said it was racist and discriminatory.

The January 27 order caused chaos at airports across the US last week as some citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were denied entry. Virtually all refugees were also barred, upending the lives of thousands of people who had spent years seeking asylum in the US.

On Saturday Mr Trump also tweeted: "Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it's death & destruction![sic]"

US Customs and Border Protection told airlines they could board travellers 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 US embassy ... We have to follow the US 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.

But for some who had changed their travel plans following the ban, the order was not enough reassurance.

In Dubai, Tariq Laham, 32, and his Polish fiancee Natalia had scrapped plans to travel to the US after they get married in July in Poland. Laham said the couple would not reverse their decision.

"It is just too risky," said Laham, a Syrian who works as a director of commercial operations at a multinational technology company. "Every day you wake up and there is a new decision."