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Trump bid to restore travel ban rejected

The US federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration’s request to reinstate a travel ban blocked by a federal judge on Friday. The late night ruling means the travel ban will remain suspended until the full case has been heard.

The court gave the White House and the states challenging it a deadline of Monday to present more arguments. Two states argued that the travel ban, affecting people from seven mainly-Muslim countries, was unconstitutional.

In its appeal, the Justice Department said Judge James Robart had overreached by “second guessing” the president on a national security matter. It also argued that only the president could decide who can enter or stay in the US. In Friday’s case, the Justice Department had argued that states did not have the authority to challenge a presidential executive order.

Lawyers for the states of Washington and Minnesota had argued that the ban was unconstitutional because it denied people with valid entry documents the right to travel without due process. It also violated freedom of religion rights by appearing to target Muslims, they said. Mr Trump called Judge Robart’s ruling “ridiculous”, described him as a “so-called judge” and vowed to restore the ban.

Judge Robart has served on the federal bench since 2004 after nomination by President George W Bush. Meanwhile Iran, one of the countries named in the ban, has also responded to Judge Robart’s ruling by saying it would allow a US wrestling team to compete in a World Cup event it is hosting later this month.

The US wrestlers were initially denied visas after Iran said it would ban Americans in retaliation for Mr Trump’s order. Friday’s ruling has also seen visa holders from the affected nations scramble to get flights to the US, fearing they have a slim window to enter.

The State Department has been reversing visa cancellations and US homeland security employees have been told by their department to comply with the ruling. Customs officials told airlines that they could resume boarding banned travellers. Qatar Airways, Air France, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa and others said they would do so.

The ban caused confusion at US and foreign airports when it came into force. It envisages a 90-day visa suspension for anyone arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. 

The directive also suspends the US Refugee Admissions Programme for 120 days, and places an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. It has led to protests in US cities and around the world.

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