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Federal judge partially lifts Trump’s latest refugee restrictions

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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 efforts to curtail immigration and travel to the United States.

The decision by U.S. District Judge James Robart is the first judicial curb on rules the Trump administration put into place in late October that have contributed significantly to a precipitous drop in the number of refugees being admitted into the country.

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Refugees and groups that assist them argued in court that the administration’s policies violated the Constitution and federal rulemaking procedures, among other claims. Department of Justice attorneys argued in part that U.S. law grants the executive branch the authority to limit refugee admissions in the way that it had done so.

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. For each of the last three years, refugees from the 11 countries made up more than 40 percent of U.S. admissions. A Reuters review of State Department data showed that as the review went into effect, refugee admissions from the 11 countries plummeted.

Robart ruled that the administration could carry out the security review, but that it could not stop processing or admitting refugees from the 11 countries in the meantime, as long as those refugees have a “bona fide” connection to the United States.

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As part of its new restrictions, the Trump administration had also paused a program that allowed for family reunification for refugees, pending further security screening procedures being put into place.

Robart ordered the government to re-start the program, known as “follow-to-join”. Approximately 2,000 refugees were admitted into the United States in fiscal year 2015 under the program, according to Department of Homeland Security data.

Refugee advocacy groups praised Robart’s decision.

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“This ruling brings relief to thousands of refugees in precarious situations in the Middle East and East Africa, as well as to refugees already in the U.S. who are trying to reunite with their spouses and children,” said Mariko Hirose, litigation director for the International Refugee Assistance Project, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

A Justice Department spokeswoman, Lauren Ehrsam, said the department disagrees with Robart’s ruling and is “currently evaluating the next steps”.

Robart, who was appointed to the bench by Republican former President George W. Bush, emerged from relative obscurity in February, when he issued a temporary order to lift the first version of Trump’s travel ban.

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On Twitter, Trump called him a “so-called judge” whose “ridiculous” opinion “essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country”.

Robart’s ruling represented the second legal defeat in two days for the Trump administration. On Friday, a U.S. appeals court said Trump’s travel ban targeting six Muslim-majority countries should not be applied to people with strong U.S. ties, but said its ruling would be put on hold pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

By Yeganeh Torbati

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(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Susan Thomas and Mary Milliken)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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UK travel giant Thomas Cook set to collapse: report

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Thomas Cook's 178-year existence was reported to be coming to an end on Monday after the British travel firm struggled to find private investment to keep it afloat, potentially affecting thousands of holidaymakers.

The operator has said it needs £200 million ($250 million) or else it will face administration, which could affect 600,000 holidaymakers and require Britain's largest peacetime repatriation.

A source close to the negotiations told AFP that the company had failed to find the cash from private investors and would collapse unless the government intervened.

But ministers are unlikely to step in due to worries about the pioneering operator's longer-term viability, the Times reported, leaving it on the brink.

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‘We are the people’: Watch Billy Porter get a standing ovation for his passionate speech at the Emmys

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In a powerful and passionate speech accepting his Emmy, "Pose" actor Billy Porter showered the audience with love and proudly reminded all of their right to belong and be loved.

"Oh, my God. God bless you all! The category is love, y'all, love!" Porter exclaimed.

The epic FX show "Pose" depicts Black and Latinos in the LGBTQ ballroom culture of New York City in the 1980s in the first season and the early 1990s in the second season.

"I am so overwhelmed and so overjoyed to have lived long enough to see this day," he said. "James Baldwin wrote, 'It took many years of vomiting up the filth I was taught about myself and half-believed, before I was able to walk on the earth as though I had a right to be here.' I have the right. You have the right. We all have the right."

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Paris show of King Tutankhamun artifacts set new record with 1.42 million visitors

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A blockbuster Tutankhamun show set a new all-time French record Sunday, with 1.42 million visitors flocking to see the exhibition in Paris, the organisers said.

The turnout beat the previous record set by another Tutankhamun show billed as the "exhibition of the century" in 1967, when 1.24 million queued to see "Tutankhamun and His Times" at the Petit Palais.

"Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh" -- which has been described as a "once in a generation" show -- will open in London in November.

The last time a show of comparable size about the boy king opened there in 1972 it sparked "Tutmania", with 1.6 million people thronging the British Museum.

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