SEATTLE – A federal judge in Seattle on Friday granted a two-week extension to the Justice Department in a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump’s immigration order is blocking efforts by legal residents to reunite with their children who are trapped in war-torn countries.
U.S. District Judge James Robart, who halted enforcement of Trump’s immigration order nationwide in February in a separate case brought by the states of Washington and Minnesota, said in his order that the federal government could have more time before responding to plaintiff’s efforts to have the case certified as a class-action lawsuit.
The Justice Department argued that Trump intends to rescind the order and replace it with a new, substantially revised executive order that may “influence the shape of the legal issues … in ways relevant to the class certification question.”
After being repeatedly postponed, a White House official said Thursday a replacement order now won’t be unveiled until next week at the earliest.
Robart also said he understood the frustrations of the parents and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, who filed the lawsuit, over Trump administration statements that seemingly contradict those made by federal government lawyers.
“The court understands Plaintiffs’ frustrations concerning statements emanating from President Trump’s administration that seemingly contradict representations of the federal government’s lawyers in this and other litigation before the court,” the order said.
Nevertheless, Robart said, the court will continue to rely on statements coming from the federal attorneys.
The lawsuit filed in Seattle’s U.S. District Court in late January claims Trump’s order barring people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. is unconstitutional. It asked for a judge to intervene and stop the application of the part of the order that suspends visas to citizens of those seven countries.
Juweiya Abdiaziz Ali, one of the plaintiffs, is a U.S. citizen living in Seattle who started the process in August of bringing her son from Somalia. But Trump’s order has her worried that her son’s visa process will be indefinitely suspended, she said.
Like thousands of others, those named in the lawsuit pursued the immigrant visa process that includes hundreds of dollars in filing fees, security screenings, medical examinations and interviews, Matt Adams, the group’s legal director said previously.
The Trump administration has defended the order, saying more restrictions are needed to protect the U.S. from future terrorist attacks.
The new deadline for federal government attorneys to respond to the motion is March 20.
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