Trump administration appeals order blocking travel ban

The latest in a series of dramatic twists since the Republican billionaire leader issued his immigration order a week ago.

US president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump attend the 60th Annual Red Cross Gala at Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, US, on February 4, 2017. Carlos Barria / Reuters
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PALM BEACH, US // The US Justice Department on Saturday appealed a temporary block of Donald Trump’s travel ban on citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries, after the president unleashed a fiery tirade and those with valid visas started arriving on American soil.

It was just the latest in a series of dramatic twists since the Republican billionaire leader issued his immigration order a week ago.

On Friday, a federal judge in Washington state put a temporary stay on the measures pending a wider legal review, prompting government agencies and global airlines to cease enforcing the ban.

Thousands of people from London and Paris to New York and Washington staged fresh protests against Trump, who took office on January 20 - little more than two weeks ago.

The Manhattan property mogul-turned-president, who was spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago vacation retreat in Florida, unloaded a barrage of angry tweets throughout the day.

He specifically targeted US District Judge James Robart - an appointee of Republican president George W Bush - in an extremely rare attack on a federal judge from a sitting president.

“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 early in the day.

The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!

In the evening, he posted: “The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy!”

Late Saturday, the Justice Department filed its motion to appeal, though the legal brief detailing its arguments has yet to come.

“We’ll win. For the safety of the country, we’ll win,” Mr Trump told reporters.

The case will now move to a federal appeals court.

Nevertheless, government authorities began complying with the lower court judge’s ruling, reopening the borders to those with proper travel documents.

The State Department told visa holders from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen that they are again allowed to travel as long as the documents had not been “physically cancelled”.

The department earlier said up to 60,000 people had their visas revoked as a result of Mr Trump’s order, although a Justice Department attorney put the number at closer to 100,000.

The Department of Homeland Security - which runs border agencies - also said it would cease implementing the order.

What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into U.S.?

* Agence France-Presse