Judge Blocks Entry Ban, Visas Restored

February 4, 2017

The U.S. Department of State has restored the validity of visas from individuals from seven countries whose nationals were barred from entering the United States under a Jan. 27 executive order signed by President Trump. The State Department's move follows a federal judge's decision Friday night to temporarily block the enforcement of that order nationwide.

The New York Times reported that Judge James Robart, of the Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington, temporarily barred the enforcement of the 90-day entry ban on nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. On Saturday morning the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said it was suspending all actions to implement the immigration order, several news outlets reported.

In accordance with the order, the State Department has restored the validity of visas from the seven countries, which it had provisionally revoked in response to Trump’s executive order.

“We have reversed the provisional revocation of visas under Executive Order 13769,” a State Department official told Inside Higher Ed. “Those individuals with visas that were not physically canceled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid.”

Trump’s executive order has been widely condemned by civil rights groups as a pretext for banning the entry of Muslims, and by education groups and university leaders who see it as undermining key higher education values of inclusion, mobility and internationalism, and as preventing the travel by talented students and scholars to their campuses. Numerous students and scholars from the affected countries who happened to be abroad at the time the order was signed have been unable to re-enter the U.S. Under the terms of the order, those already in the U.S. did not have to leave, but they would be unable to re-enter the country if they left, in effect preventing them from engaging in any personal or professional international travel.

The White House has pledged to contest Robart’s ruling. “At the earliest possible time, the Department of Justice intends to file an emergency stay of this outrageous order and defend the executive order of the president, which we believe is lawful and appropriate,” the White House said in a statement Friday.

An updated statement from the White House deleted the word “outrageous,” but Trump did not hold back his outrage on Twitter, saying, “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump has justified the executive order as intended to keep terrorists out of the United States.

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