WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge in Seattle partially blocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s newest restrictions on refugee admissions on Saturday, the latest legal defeat for his administration’s efforts to curtail immigration and travel to the United States.
On Oct. 24, the Trump administration effectively paused refugee admissions from 11 countries mostly in the Middle East and Africa, pending a 90-day security review, which was set to expire in late January.
The countries subject to the review are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which together accounted for more than 40 percent of refugee admissions to the United States in each of the last three fiscal years.
The Trump administration also paused a program that allowed for family reunification for refugees, pending further security screening procedures being put into place.
Refugees and groups that assist them sued in order to win a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the new restrictions.
U.S. District Judge James Robart said in a ruling issued on Saturday evening that the administration is blocked from suspending the family refugee reunification program.
Further, the administration cannot block the entry of refugees from the 11 countries, as long as they have a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” Robart wrote.
Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Susan Thomas and Mary Milliken