A federal judge in Washington state has blocked parts of the Trump administration’s travel ban that limits entry into the United States by refugees from several majority Muslim nations.
In a ruling released Saturday, Judge James Robart of the Western District of Washington agreed with two groups that argued the travel ban prevents some foreign nationals from reuniting with family members already in the United States.
“We are thrilled that families will have the chance to be reunited and refugees who have suffered so much will have the chance to make it to safety,” Rabbi Will Berkovitz, the chief executive officer of the Jewish Family Service of Seattle, which brought one of the suits, said. “As we celebrate this moment, we remember our ancestors who did not have anyone standing with them or for them.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said the department disagrees with the ruling and is “currently evaluating the next steps.”
Several of the refugees involved in the Jewish Family Service case are from Iraq while another is from Egypt and one is from Somalia.
In the other case, the American Civil Liberties Union represented a man who is a Somali citizen and his family.
The plaintiffs argued that a memo that accompanied the latest travel ban includes directives to prevent the entry of refugees who are citizens of 11 countries. Government lawyers declined in court to name the nations, the judge wrote, but said they posed elevated risks to national security.
Eight of the nations were named in President Donald Trump’s executive order on October 24 implementing the third version of the ban. They are Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen.
There were two motions, one for people from the 11 countries that were included in the memo and other foreigners classified as “following-to-join” refugees.
The judge granted the motions, but said his ruling does not apply to “those refugees who lack a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
The ruling comes one day after the three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the latest version of the travel ban violates federal law.
The travel ban itself, however, remains in effect. The Supreme Court issued an order this month saying the ban can be enforced while challenges to the policy make their way through the legal system.