* Passengers from 7 affected countries can fly to U.S. again
* Trump calls ruling blocking his travel ban 'ridiculous'
* Some fear new travel window may not last long
* Iraqi refugee says family's plans 'in God's hands'
By Yeganeh Torbati and Steve Holland
WASHINGTON/PALM BEACH, Fla, Feb 4 U.S. President
Donald Trump said the Justice Department will win an appeal
filed late Saturday of a judge's order lifting a travel ban he
had imposed on citizens of seven mainly Muslim countries.
"We'll win. For the safety of the country, we'll win," he
told reporters at his private Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach,
Florida, shortly after the Justice Department filed a notice
that it intends to appeal the order.
Trump's personal attack on U.S. District Judge James Robart
in Seattle went too far for some who said the president was
undermining an institution designed to check the power of the
White House and Congress.
"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially
takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and
will be overturned!" Trump said on Twitter early on Saturday.
Trump has said "extreme vetting" of refugees and immigrants is
needed to prevent terrorist attacks.
Throughout the day, Trump continued to criticize the
decision in tweets. Late Saturday, Trump showed no signs of
backing down. "The judge opens up our country to potential
terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at
heart. Bad people are very happy!" he tweeted.
As the ban lifted, refugees and thousands of travelers from
Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who had been
stopped in their tracks last weekend by Trump's executive order
scrambled to get flights to quickly enter the United States.
The Justice Department did not say when it would file its
appeal with the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals of the
ruling made by Robart late on Friday that also lifted Trump's
temporary ban imposed on refugee admissions.
The judge appointed by former Republican President George W.
Bush questioned the constitutionality of Trump's
The three-judge panel that will decide whether to
immediately block the ruling includes appointees of George W.
Bush and two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and
Trump's tweets criticizing the judge's decision could make
it tougher for Justice Department attorneys as they seek to
defend the executive order in Washington state and other courts,
said Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington
University, adding that presidents are usually circumspect about
commenting on government litigation.
"It's hard for the president to demand that courts respect
his inherent authority when he is disrespecting the inherent
authority of the judiciary. That certainly tends to poison the
well for litigation," Turley said.
U.S. immigration advocacy groups including the American
Civil Liberties Union and International Refugee Assistance
Project on Saturday in a joint statement urged those with now
valid visas from the seven nations "to consider rebooking travel
to the United States immediately" because the ruling could be
overturned or put on hold. A U.S. State Department email
reviewed by Reuters said the department is working to begin
admitting refugees including Syrians as soon as Monday.
SEPARATION OF POWERS
It is unusual for a president to attack a member of the
judiciary, which the U.S. Constitution designates as a check to
the power of the executive branch and Congress.
Reached by email Saturday, Robart declined comment on
Democratic U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said in a
statement Saturday that Trump's "hostility toward the rule of
law is not just embarrassing, it is dangerous. He seems intent
on precipitating a constitutional crisis."
"Read the 'so-called' Constitution," tweeted Representative
Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence
In an interview with ABC scheduled to air on Sunday, Vice
President Mike Pence said he did not think that Trump's
criticisms of the judge undermined the separation of powers.
"I think the American people are very accustomed to this
president speaking his mind and speaking very straight with
them," Pence said, according to an excerpt of the interview.
The court ruling was the first move in what could be months
of legal challenges to Trump's push to clamp down on
immigration. His order set off chaos last week at airports
across the United States where travelers were stranded and
thousands of people gathered to protest.
Americans are divided over Trump's order. A Reuters/Ipsos
poll this week showed 49 percent favored it while 41 percent did
Wes Parker, a retiree from Long Beach, California, held a
sign saying "Trump is love" at the Los Angeles International
Airport, and said he supported the tighter measures.
"We just have to support the travel pause," said Parker, 62.
"If you were a new president coming in, wouldn't you want what
you feel safe with?"
Rights groups, Democrats and U.S. allies have condemned the
travel ban as discriminatory. On Saturday, there were protests
against the immigrant curb in Washington, New York, Los Angeles
and other cities.
At the White House, hundreds of protesters chanted "Donald,
Donald can't you see? You're not welcome in D.C."
TRAVELERS MOVE WITH HASTE
The sudden reversal of the ban catapulted would-be
immigrants back to airports, with uncertainty over how long the
window to enter the United States will remain open.
In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of northern
Iraq, Fuad Sharef and his family prepared to fly on Saturday to
Istanbul and then New York before starting a new life in
"I am very happy that we are going to travel today. Finally,
we made it," said Sharef, who was stopped from boarding a New
York-bound flight last week.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Saturday it
would return to its normal procedures for screening travelers
but that the Justice Department would file for an emergency stay
of the order "at the earliest possible time."
Some travelers told Reuters they were cautious about the
"I will not say if I have hope or not. I wait, watch and
then I build my hopes," said Josephine Abu Assaleh, 60, who was
stopped from entering the United States after landing in
Philadelphia last week with five members of her family.
"We left the matter with the lawyers. When they tell us the
decision has been canceled, we will decide whether to go back or
not," she told Reuters in Damascus, speaking by telephone.
Virtually all refugees also were barred by Trump's order,
upending the lives of thousands of people who have spent years
seeking asylum in the United States.
Friday night's court decision sent refugee advocacy and
resettlement agencies scrambling to help people in the pipeline.
Iraqi refugee Nizar al-Qassab, 52, told Reuters in Lebanon
that his family had been due to travel to the United States for
resettlement on Jan. 31. The trip was canceled two days before
that and he was now waiting for a phone call from U.N. officials
overseeing their case.
"It's in God's hands," he said.
(Additional reporting by Issam Abdullah in Beirut, Dan Levine
in Seattle, Alana Wise in New York, Robert Chiarito and Nathan
Layne in Chicago, Daina Beth Solomon in Los Angeles, and Julia
Edwards Ainsley in Washington; Writing by Roberta Rampton and
David Shepardson; Editing by Bill Trott, Mary Milliken, Diane
Craft and Nick Macfie)