Trump travel ban: Airlines allow banned nationals after Seattle ruling

Air France and Qatar Airways say they are allowing nationals targeted by a US travel ban to board flights to America, after a federal judge suspended the controversial move.

On Friday Seattle judge James Robart ruled that President Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from seven mainly Muslim nations last week was unconstitutional.

The administration, which says the order is designed to protect the US, is expected to appeal against the ruling.

The ban has caused confusion and anger.

Its implementation was halted with immediate effect by Friday’s ruling in Seattle.

Customs officials told airlines that they could resume boarding banned travellers. Within hours, Qatar Airways said it would do so, followed by Air France.

“Nationals from the countries concerned are being authorised to fly once again to the United States, providing their papers and visas are in order,” Air France spokesman Herve Erschler said.

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Among those expected to travel soon is an Iranian infant with a heart defect who had been due to undergo life-saving surgery in the US.

The family of four-month-old Fatemeh Reshad flew her to Dubai last week to get a visa to enter the US, but this was denied under Mr Trump’s ban.

The girl will now be allowed into the country and doctors have pledged to treat her for free, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said late on Friday.

However it is unclear how many people concerned by the ban will decide to fly to the US.

Marwa al-Naal, a US citizen working in Syria and married to a Syrian man eligible for residency in the US, told the BBC that they were afraid to return because it was not clear whether her husband would be allowed in.

“A lot of people did advise me to go travel yesterday [on Friday] back to Boston. I did not take that flight because there was still the risk of facing detention,” she said.

The administration is expected to seek an emergency stay that would restore the restrictions.

In a statement, the White House described Mr Trump’s directive as “lawful and appropriate”.

“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” the statement said.


Constitutional battleground – David Willis, BBC News, Washington

Dozens of lawsuits have been filed against the executive order since it was signed by Mr Trump a week ago but this is the first time a nationwide order has been granted – temporarily voiding the president’s ban.

But the order could be reinstated once the justice department files a motion to quash the Seattle court’s ruling. In a statement the White House initially called it “outrageous”, before withdrawing that description.

The executive order caused chaos when it was suddenly introduced a week ago – some travellers arriving in the US were turned back, and protests broke out at airports across the country. The Seattle judge issued his order on the grounds that the travel ban could be unconstitutional – an argument that could be challenged all the way to the Supreme Court.

An estimated 60,000 people from the seven countries affected had their visas cancelled because of the ban. The customs department said those visas would now be reissued, and the people involved were free to travel to the US.


Mr Trump’s order imposed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. Anyone arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan or Yemen faces a 90-day visa suspension.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson described the move as unconstitutional.

“Folks who had visas, folks who were allowed to travel were denied that right without any due process whatsoever – that’s un-American and unconstitutional,” he said in a BBC interview.

The order, Mr Ferguson added, also violated freedom of religion rights. “You cannot prefer one religion over another,” he told the BBC.

Courts in at least four other states – Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Michigan – are hearing cases challenging Mr Trump’s executive order.


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