By Henry D Gombya
Immigrants and asylum seekers mainly from the seven Muslim countries that US President Donald J Trump included in his extraordinary immigration travel ban for entry in the United States, are scrambling to book their flights and reach their original US destinations during the brief period presented after an appeal court rejected Sunday a last minute appeal by the Trump administration to overturn an earlier ruling by a district judge that put in complete disarray Mr Trump’s attempts to enforce his much maligned executive immigration travel ban order.
Just less than two weeks into a presidency that historians have since described as the worst in living memory, Mr Trump finds himself not only in a ‘fist fight’ with those that have called his presidency ‘illegal’; he is now seen to be fighting the very foundation of the United States constitution by doubting the credentials of a US federal judge, James Robart of the Federal District Court in Seattle who ordered a halt on his travel ban, a decision that promptly made Mr Trump question the judge’s order and calling him ‘this so-called judge’. In an attempt to pre-empt Judge Robart’s ruling, Mr Trump ordered the US Justice Department Friday to appeal Judge Robart’s decision to ‘shoot down’ his travel ban throughout the United States. As he is now known to do, Mr Trump continues to do what no other US president has ever done before, making his displeasure known through tweets. Soon after Judge Robart made his order, Mr Trump tweeted: “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” This comment didn’t go well with US lawmakers. One of them, Republican Senator Ben Sasse from Nebraska was quoted as saying: “I’ll be honest, I don’t understand language like that. We don’t have so-called judges, we don’t have so-called senators, we don’t have so-called presidents. We have people from three different branches of government who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution… So, we don’t have any so-called judges, we have real judges.”
The saga between the US President and the US judiciary created ‘a window of opportunity’ that led refugee organisations in the US and around the world to urge those already with entry visas to the United States to make their way to airports and board flights. In his ruling, Judge Robart, appointed by the 43rd US President, George W Bush, said inter alia, that there was no support for the Trump administration’s claim that “we have to protect the US from individuals” from the affected countries. The Justice Department’s attempts to reverse Judge Robart’s ruling was shot down by a federal appeals court that ruled Sunday Mr Trump’s immigration order would remain suspended until at least today (and possibly for another month). This gave those banned from entering the United States another chance to try and make it to ‘the promised land’. Obviously angered by the appeals court decision, Mr Trump tweeted: “Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and [the] court system. People pouring in. Bad!” It wasn’t the first time that Trump questioned a federal judge’s authority.