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U.S. appeals court denies request to restore Trump's immigration ban

Reuters logo Reuters 5/02/2017 David Shepardson

The U.S. Justice Department filed an appeal late Saturday to restore President Donald Trump's immigration order barring citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries and temporarily banning refugees, even as travellers raced to enter the country while the ban was lifted.

The government moved to reverse a federal judge's Friday order that lifted the travel ban and warned the decision posed an immediate harm to the public, thwarted enforcement of an executive order and second-guessed the president's national security judgment.

Friday's ruling prompted Trump to denounce the "so-called" judge in a series of tweets on Saturday..

The appeal now goes to a three-judge panel which can act at anytime to uphold the order or suspend it pending a full appeal. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment beyond the filing.

Seattle U.S. District Judge James Robart's ruling barred the administration from enforcing the sweeping order that also indefinitely barred Syrian refugee admissions and prompted large protests across the United States.

Trump, whose personal attack on Robart went too far for some who said the president was undermining an institution designed to check the power of the White House and Congress, said he was confident the government would prevail.

"We'll win. For the safety of the country, we'll win," he told reporters in Florida.

Robart's ruling came in a case brought by the state attorney general of Washington State and was backed by major state employers Amazon.com Inc and Expedia Inc. . The lawsuit is one of several now filed against the Trump executive order around the United States, but it was the first case leading to a broad decision that applies nationwide.

The Justice Department appeal criticized Robart's legal reasoning and said the state of Washington lacked standing to challenge the order and didn't identify any legal defect in the order.

State lawyers worked around the clock last weekend against the backdrop of turbulent scenes at U.S. airports, where immigrants were detained by federal officials unprepared to implement the president's directive.

The U.S. State Department and Department of Homeland Security said they were complying with Robart's order and many visitors are expected to start arriving on Sunday, while the government said it expects to begin admitting refugees again on Monday.

A decision to reinstate Trump's order could again cause havoc at U.S. airports because some visitors are in transit, as was the case when the order took effect on Jan. 27.

As the ban lifted Friday, refugees and thousands of travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who had been stopped in their tracks last weekend by the executive order scrambled to get flights to quickly enter the United States.

The panel that will decide whether to immediately block the ruling includes three judges appointed by former Republican president George W. Bush and two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama.

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