Federal judge partially lifts Trump ban on refugees

Federal judge partially lifts Trump ban on refugees
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A federal judge in Seattle has partially lifted a ban on certain refugees imposed by the Trump administration.

U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a ruling on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Jewish Family Service on Saturday.

The groups had urged the judge, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, to halt the ban on refugees from some majority-Muslim nations.

Robart ruled that the federal government should process certain refugee applications, saying his order doesn't apply to refugees who do not have a "bona fide" relationship with an individual or an entity in the U.S.

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The ban originally went into effect after the president issued an executive order reinstating the refugee program “with enhanced vetting capabilities" in October.

The ACLU argued that a memo sent to the president from Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonWhite House ousts Sessions Trump downplays potential turnover: 'Everybody wants to work in this White House' Trump says Cabinet changes likely after midterms MORE, acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeFederal judge asks whether Trump's ‘America First’ agenda is being used to camouflage racial animus Trump administration ignored intel warnings in canceling immigration protections Trump officials disregarded warnings not to revoke protections for immigrants: report MORE and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats saying certain refugees should be banned unless security was enhanced did not provide enough evidence for why more security was needed.

The judge wrote Saturday that "former officials detailed concretely how the Agency Memo will harm the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests" and said his ruling restores "refuge procedures and programs to the position they were in prior" to the ban, which he noted included thorough vetting of individuals traveling to the U.S.

The lawsuits stemming from the ACLU and Jewish Family Services were consolidated and involved refugees who have been blocked from coming to the U.S. 

“Refugee resettlement is one of our proudest humanitarian achievements,” Jewish Family Services lawyer Mariko Hirose told The Seattle Times.

“We as Americans cannot let this administration destroy our refugee program and repeat the worst of this country’s history by letting bigotry turn away those who need our help the most.”

The refugee order applies to spouses and minors of refugees who have already moved into the U.S., suspending programs for individuals coming from 11 countries.

Updated: 8:36 p.m.