After federal judge suspends Trump order, passengers with valid travel documents are permitted to fly
Airlines in Europe and the Middle East responded to the suspension of tightened U.S. immigration rules by again allowing passengers from countries that had been blocked to fly to the U.S., following chaos at airports and protests across the country.
A federal judge in Seattle on Friday issued a ruling that temporarily blocks President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees signed on Jan. 27. With the directive, the president barred individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the U.S., calling it a necessary move to stop terrorists from entering the country.
Mr. Trump’s 90-day ban on citizens of Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Yemen spurred travel havoc as airlines globally were caught by surprise and had to move quickly to block passengers. Airlines also pulled some employees from the affected countries from serving on U.S.-bound flights.
Friday’s ruling applied nationwide to tens of thousands of people holding visas to travel to the U.S.
Airlines are on the front line of enforcing immigration rules. Carriers that transport an individual who isn’t permitted to enter the U.S. can be fined more than $4,000.
Deutsche Lufthansa AG on Saturday said all passengers with valid travel documents including from the seven countries included in the ban would be allowed to travel to the U.S. The airline remains in contact with U.S. authorities in case the rules change again, a spokesman said.
Qatar Airways, a major carrier serving routes from the Middle East to the U.S., said all individuals seeking to travel who present valid visas or green cards will be permitted to travel to the U.S.
But airlines were bracing for possible further changes in U.S. immigration rules.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement Friday that the Justice Department “intends to file an emergency stay of this order and defend the executive order of the president, which we believe is lawful and appropriate.”
In a Saturday morning tweet, Mr. Trump sharply criticized the judge.
“The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” he wrote.
Emirates Airline—the world’s biggest carrier by international traffic, which also eased travel restrictions—noted that entry requirements to the U.S. may change and said it would “continue to comply with guidance provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
Passengers from the seven countries named in the executive order principally travel to the U.S. via major hubs in Europe and the Middle East. There are no direct commercial airline flights between the U.S. and those countries.
The detentions of people who were en route to the U.S. when the ban took effect sparked large protests at airports at major American cities last weekend, particularly over the plight of legal permanent residents, commonly called green-card holders.