The federal government on Saturday said it was complying with a judge’s decision to halt President Donald Trump’s sweeping travel ban but would quickly seek to reverse the court’s order.
Asked about operations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official based in Atlanta would only refer The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to a prepared statement issued by the federal Department of Homeland Security in Washington.
“In accordance with the judge’s ruling, DHS has suspended any and all actions implementing the affected sections of the executive order,” the statement says. The statement also says the Trump administration is planning to request “an emergency stay of this order and defend the president’s executive order, which is lawful and appropriate.”
“The order is intended to protect the homeland and the American people,” the statement says, “and the president has no higher duty and responsibility than to do so.”
Volunteer attorneys who were surveying travelers and their relatives at Hartsfield-Jackson Saturday found no indications that Trump’s executive order was still being enforced, said Daniel Werner, a senior supervising attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center. But Werner cautioned that the volunteers don’t have access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening areas at the airport and that officials from that agency aren’t talking to them.
“The impression I have from the first shift of volunteers today is that things are smooth — that they are not detaining people,” he said. “It seems like (CBP) is complying with the order. It is always hard to know with real certainty because… we can’t get into the back room. So everything we know is based on canvassing people as they come out of customs. And people are saying they got through easily.”
Delta Air Lines on Saturday released a statement saying that it “is complying with CBP instructions related to carrying passengers on international flights into the United States.” Asked for more information, Delta referred the AJC to CBP.
Citing Trump’s order, U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorities temporarily detained 11 travelers at the Atlanta airport on Jan. 28, some for several hours, according to relatives and a pair of Georgia congressmen who showed up at the airport. Among the travelers were five green card holders — or lawful permanent residents — returning from trips to Iran. Meanwhile, dozens of refugees have been blocked from traveling to Atlanta and resettling here.
On Jan. 27, Trump signed an order barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The order also bars any refugees from resettling in the U.S. for 120 days and it indefinitely blocks Syrian refugees from resettling here.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart — a George W. Bush appointee based in Seattle — issued a temporary restraining order, putting all of those provisions on hold after officials in Washington and Minnesota sued.
“The executive order adversely affects the states’ residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel,” Robart’s order says. “In addition, the states themselves are harmed by virtue of the damage the implementation of the executive order has inflicted upon the operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as injuries to the states’ operations, tax base and public funds.”
Trump took to Twitter Saturday morning to blast the judge’s order.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” Trump tweeted. He later said on Twitter: “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.?”