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US state department reverses visa cancellations after Trump travel ban blocked


A rally protesting against the immigration policies of President Donald Trump, near the White House in Washington (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A rally protesting against the immigration policies of President Donald Trump, near the White House in Washington (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

A rally protesting against the immigration policies of President Donald Trump, near the White House in Washington (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The US state department has reversed the cancellations of visas for foreigners after a federal judge blocked US president Donald Trump's executive order on immigration.

The department initially said up to 60,000 foreigners from seven majority-Muslim countries had their visas "provisionally revoked" to comply with Mr Trump's order blocking them from travelling to the United States.

The department said it acted to reinstate the visas after receiving word from the US justice department about the judge's ruling in Washington state.

For now, the department said people covered by the order and holding a valid visa may now travel to the United States.

Earlier, Mr Trump had lashed out at "this so-called judge" who put a nationwide hold on his executive order denying entry to the US to refugees and people from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The ruling, by US district judge James Robart, set in motion another weekend of confusion and chaos around the country.

The White House pledged to swiftly appeal the federal judge's ruling, but this did not appear to be enough for Mr Trump, who vented his frustrations on Twitter.

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The US leader said: "The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"

He has said the travel ban, which he enacted by executive order on January 27, will keep Americans safe by keeping potential terrorists from entering the country.

He also said on Twitter that "when a country is no longer able to say who can and who cannot come in & out, especially for reasons of safety & security - big trouble!"

Judge Robart ruled in Seattle against government lawyers' claims that Washington state and Minnesota, which sued over the ban, lacked the legal grounds to challenge Mr Trump's order.

Judge Robart said the states showed that their case was likely to succeed.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the justice department would appeal the "outrageous" order at the earliest possible time. Mr Spicer quickly issued an amended statement that deleted the word "outrageous".

"The president's order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people," Mr Spicer said, calling the order both lawful and appropriate.

Mr Trump billed the action as necessary to stop "radical Islamic terrorists" from coming to the US.

The order included a 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen, a 120-day suspension of the US refugee programme, and an indefinite bar against admitting Syrian refugees.

The decision sparked protests nationwide and confusion at airports as some travellers were detained. More protests were planned for this weekend, including at Mr Trump's estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is spending the weekend.

Last week, US district judge Ann Donnelly issued an emergency order in New York after lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union filed a court petition on behalf of people from the seven countries who were detained at airports nationwide as the ban took effect.

Judge Donnelly's order addressed only a portion of Mr Trump's order, and barred US border agents from removing anyone who arrived in the US with a valid visa from the seven countries. Judge Robart's decision was more sweeping in scope.

Saturday was not the first instance of Mr Trump criticising a federal judge, a member of an independent branch of the government.

During the presidential campaign, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised the federal judge who was presiding over a lawsuit brought by former students of Trump University.

Mr Trump claimed that district judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana, had an "absolute conflict" in handling the case because he is "of Mexican heritage".

Mr Trump launched his presidential campaign with a harsh description of Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.

He recently agreed to pay 25 million dollars (£20 million) to settle the lawsuits against Trump University.

The Homeland Security Department later said it is no longer directing airlines to prevent affected visa-holders from boarding US-bound flights.

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