Normal air service to the U.S. was resuming Saturday after a federal judge temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order barring entry by people from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
For now, it appears the order by U.S. District Court Senior Judge James L. Robart means that holders of U.S. visas or green cards allowing them to live and work in the U.S. can fly into the country as before. Trump’s order affected citizens of Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq and Yemen.
Qatar Airways issued a statement saying that, “as directed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection,” nationals of the seven affected countries and all refugees presenting a valid U.S. visa or Green Card allowing them to work in the U.S. would be permitted to travel to the United States.
Egyptair said the same thing.
“There is no stopping any passenger if they have a visa,” Egyptair’s manager for flights to New York, Hossam Hussein, told NBC by phone. He said people from any nation could travel to the U.S.
Lufthansa, too, said passengers previously blocked were now free to fly to the U.S.
Still, some confusion remained.
“We’ve been notified by U.S. Customs & Borders Protection that the Executive Order issued 27 January has been suspended,” Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.
But the airline added a cautionary note: “The situation remains fluid, so we’re continuing to review the information we provide our customers, and will provide any relevant updates on our website.”
The New York times reported that airlines that had been stopping travelers from boarding planes to the U.S. had been told by the government in a conference call Friday night to begin allowing them to fly. The Times cited ” a person familiar with the call but who declined to be identified because it was a private discussion.”
Reuters also reported a Friday evening conference call in which U.S. Customs & Border Protection informed U.S. airlines that they could again board travelers who had been blocked by last week’s executive order. The airlines were told to operate just has they had before the order, the news agency reported.
NBC News was not able to confirm the reports.
On Saturday morning, people began immediately to resume efforts to fly to the U.S.
“I heard about the judge’s ruling and I immediately got on a plane to Frankfurt to see if we got a connecting flight to Boston,” said Saira Rafiei who is Iranian and heard about the news while she was in Tehran.
NBC News spoke to her as she waited for a plane in Frankfurt.
The temporary restraining order applies nationwide, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office said.
“The Constitution prevailed today,” Ferguson said in a statement. “No one is above the law — not even the President.”
The restraining order will be in effect until Robart considers a legal challenge filed by the U.S. attorney general, Ferguson’s office said.
The White House press secretary said the administration would seek an emergency stay at the earliest possible time, and initially called the judge’s action an “outrageous order.” An updated statement issued a short time later dropped the term “outrageous.”
“The president’s order is intended to protect the homeland and he has the constitutional authority and responsibility to protect the American people,” both statements said.
The order, and its swift and seemingly unplanned implementation had created chaos in airports around the U.S. with people detained and families separated.
Among those reported temporarily detained were an Iraqi refugee who worked with the U.S. government, green card holders, students and professors. Protests erupted at several large airports across the country after Trump signed the order.
Judge Halts Trump Travel Ban: Banned Countries’ Citizens Able to Board Flights – NBCNews.com