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World Trump’s immigration ban is blocked: Six things you need to know

A demonstrator takes part in a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's recent travel ban to the U.S. in Paris, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. People gathered to protest Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. and suspending the nation's refugee program.

Kamil Zihnioglu/AP photo

A U.S. federal judge in Seattle issued a ruling Friday lifting President Donald Trump's 90-day ban on immigrants and travellers from seven majority Muslim countries entering the United States. The court decision is a roadblock to one of Mr. Trump's signature promises.

"The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!" Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

Here's what you need to know:

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How did this happen?

The government of Washington state, later joined by the government of Minnesota, brought a court case against Mr. Trump's executive order. They argued it is unconstitutional – because it discriminates on the basis of religion – and is hurting their states.

The two states sought a temporary restraining order, blocking the federal government from enforcing Mr. Trump's travel, immigration and refugee bans until the court can hear the full case.

On Friday, Judge James Robart sided with the states and issued a temporary restraining order. In his ruling, he said the states "face immediate and irreparable injury" as a result of Mr. Trump's decree.

"[Mr. Trump's] Executive Order adversely affects the States' residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations, and freedom to travel," Judge Robart wrote in his ruling. "In addition, the States themselves are harmed by virtue of the damage that implementation of the Executive Order has inflicted upon the operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as injury to the States' operations, tax bases, and public funds."

In other words: He found that not only are people in the states hurt by the ban, but the state governments were suffering because they could not bring in people who might contribute to their economies and pay taxes, or international students and professors to attend and teach at their universities.

So are people who were previously banned now allowed to travel to the U.S.?

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Yes.

Even though the case was brought by two states, Judge Robart ordered that the ban be lifted nationwide, "at all United States borders and ports of entry." He said this is necessary because U.S. immigration law requires that immigration rules be enforced "uniformly."

He also specified that his ruling would take effect immediately.

The court ruling specifically suspends Mr. Trump's orders to exclude people from the seven countries for 90 days, to bar all refugees for 180 days and, after the 180 days, to prioritise non-Muslim refugees from majority Muslim countries.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for the U.S.'s borders, has informed airlines to allow previously-banned people to travel to the U.S.

How is Trump taking this and what can he do about it?

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In a series of Saturday morning tweets, he tore into Judge Robart (who he referred to as a "this so-called judge") and vowed to get his ruling reversed.

"When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!" Mr. Trump tweeted. He is spending the weekend at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach, Florida. "MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"

Mr. Trump's spokesman, Sean Spicer, said Friday night that the U.S. Justice Department will file for an emergency stay of the ruling "at the earliest possible time."

"The president's order is intended to protect the country and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people," Mr. Spicer tweeted.

Previous presidents have faced unfavourable court rulings -- George W. Bush lost a Supreme Court case that found detainees at Guantanamo Bay had the right to habeus corpus; Barack Obama saw a plan to oblige states to expand Medicaid, a system of free health care for low-income Americans, blocked by the court -- but Mr. Trump's decision to personally attack the judge is virtually unprecedented.

How long will the order be in force? Where do things go from here?

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Judge Robart's ruling specifies that it will stay in force until he has a chance to decide the full case. He ordered both sides to propose a schedule for the full case before the end of the day on Monday, and promised to "promptly schedule a hearing," suggesting he plans to move fairly quickly.

But much depends how quickly the government files an appeal, and who hears it.

Weren't there already court rulings on this? How is this different?

Several courts, including in New York and Boston, have ruled against parts of Mr. Trump's order. Those judgements, however, only suspended parts of the order and in some cases only for short periods of time.

Judge Robart's order, however, is the broadest. It blocks all three key sections of Mr. Trump's order (the ban on specific countries, the block on refugees and the order to prioritise non-Muslims from Muslim countries), it is explicitly in force nation-wide and it is in force indefinitely – until either Judge Robart or another court supercedes it.

Who is Judge Robart?

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A native of Seattle, Judge James Robart went to school at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and spent his career at a corporate law firm. He eventually rose to become managing partner at Seattle-based firm Lane Powell Spears Lubersky.

He was appointed to the federal court for the western district of Washington state in 2004 by then-president George W. Bush and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Judge Robart has shown concern for refugees and equity matters in the past.

As a lawyer, he represented Southeast Asian refugees pro bono and volunteered with Seattle Children's Home, a charity that helps children with mental health issues.

And last August, he declared "black lives matter" during a court hearing on accusations of racial bias and excessive force by Seattle police. In his ruling in that case, Judge Robart ordered police to move forward with reforms such as ensuring accusations of misconduct by officers were investigated by civilians rather than by fellow police and that the hearing process for such accusations be sped up.

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