On Friday night, Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington issued a temporary restraining order that forces the federal government to stop enforcing a ban on entries to the US from seven majority-Muslim countries, as well as nearly all refugees.
The ruling was issued in a lawsuit against the federal government by the attorneys general of Washington and Minnesota — one of 40 that have been filed against the ban so far.
The Trump administration hasn’t had much luck defending the executive order. Judges around the country issued stays preventing the government from deporting anyone who’d been detained at airports under the ban, and two judges had attempted to forbid the government from preventing people from boarding US-bound flights if they had valid visas. (The government’s response to this was that it had already revoked the visas of people from blacklisted countries.)
The order issued Friday by Judge Robart, though, is much broader.
It grants every part of the request filed by the attorneys general — and the attorneys general requested basically a complete halt of the most controversial parts of the ban.
The request Robart granted prohibits the government from doing anything to enforce the ban on entries from the seven countries — not only is it not allowed to deny people entry at airports or other ports, it’s also not allowed to deny them visas on the basis of the executive order.
Furthermore, the ruling undoes the government’s temporary ban on refugees — it tells the government not to enforce the sections of the order that ban refugees from the US for the next 120 days, and Syrian refugees from the US indefinitely. (It also tells the government not to enforce parts of the order that give preference to refugees who are members of persecuted “religious minorities” — something critics of the ban have argued constitutes discrimination against Muslims.
The government has dragged its feet on complying with (or simply violated) previous orders that attempted to limit the ban — but it looks like it’s complying with Judge Robart’s ruling. Both Customs and Border Protection and the State Department have said they’re going to reinstate the 60,000 to 100,000 visas that had previously been stripped from people from blacklisted countries (although, per Ryan Nobles of CNN, people whose visas were physically taken away will still have to reapply for new ones).
Basically, in the words of immigration lawyer Greg Siskind, Judge Robart’s order “turns back the clock” — it restores the immigration system the US had on January 26, the day before the ban was signed.
The reset may not last. The next hearing in the case could happen as soon as next week. But for the moment, after an extremely tumultuous week, President Trump’s ban has finally been restrained.