U.S.-bound migrants were seizing the opportunity to enter the United States on Sunday after a federal appeals court in San Francisco denied the Trump administration request for immediate reinstatement of a controversial, temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations and all refugees.
Judges William Canby, Jr., and Michelle Friedland gave no reason in their brief ruling, but ordered the states of Washington and Minnesota, which had filed suit to halt the ban, to provide a detailed explanation for their lawsuit by Monday. The Justice Department was ordered to file its response by Monday at 3 p.m. ET.
Cairo airport officials told the Associated Press that 33 U.S.-bound migrants from Yemen, Syria and Iraq boarded flights Sunday on their way to the United States.
President Trump ordered the travel ban Jan. 27, one week after his inauguration. The executive order suspended entry of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days, halted admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and barred entry for three months to residents from the predominantly Muslim countries of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
The order immediately sparked anger and confusion across the nation as scores of incoming travelers were held up at U.S. airports and many more were halted from boarding flights bound for the U.S. Protests erupted at airports and city halls nationwide.
After days of legal wrangling, Judge James Robart, sitting in Seattle, issued the temporary restraining order Friday night that lifted the ban. The Justice Department appealed, claiming that "judicial second-guessing of the President’s determination that a temporary suspension of entry of certain classes of aliens was necessary" constitutes an "impermissible intrusion" into Trump's authority, the Justice Department said.
Trump was more succinct, tweeting that the "opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"
Still the State Department said it was restoring tens of thousands of canceled visas for foreigners and the Department of Homeland Security "suspended all actions" for enforcing the ban and instead began standard inspection of travelers.
"Because the ban was lifted by a judge, many very bad and dangerous people may be pouring into our country. A terrible decision," he tweeted.
"We'll win," Trump told reporters Saturday night. "For the safety of the country, we'll win."
The State Department, after initially saying that as many as 60,000 foreigners from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen had their visas canceled, reversed course on Saturday and said they could travel to the U.S. if they had a valid visa.
The department on Saturday advised refugee aid agencies that refugees set to travel before Trump signed his order will now be allowed in. A State Department official said in an email obtained by The Associated Press that the government was "focusing on booking refugee travel" through Feb. 17 and working to have arrivals resume as soon as Monday.
The Homeland Security Department no longer was directing airlines to prevent visa-holders affected by Trump's order from boarding U.S.-bound planes. The agency said it had "suspended any and all actions" related to putting in place Trump's order.
Hearings have also been held in court challenges nationwide. Washington state and Minnesota argued that the temporary ban and the global suspension of the U.S. refugee program harmed residents and effectively mandated discrimination.
In his written order Friday, Robart said it's not the court's job to "create policy or judge the wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches," but rather, to make sure that an action taken by the government "comports with our country's laws."
Contributing: Associated Press