The United States Department of Homeland Security said Saturday it won't force airlines to block foreigners with visas from boarding planes into the U.S. under President Donald Trump's travel ban.
The move comes as the State Department also announced it has reversed the cancellation of visas under Trump's executive order, which bars people from seven predominantly Muslim nations from traveling into America. The State Department had said up to 60,000 foreigners had their visas "provisionally revoked" since the order went into effect a week ago.
The departments' decisions essentially back up a federal judge who on Friday halted Trump's executive order.
"Those individuals with visas that were not physically cancelled may now travel if the visa is otherwise valid," the State Department said, adding that it is working with the Department of Homeland Security to enforce the move.
On Saturday, normal air service resumed following the judge's decision, which Trump blasted in a series of tweets as "ridiculous."
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.
"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.
Early Saturday, the International Air Transport Association sent a note to all airlines confirming that the ban, for the moment, was completely inoperative. Visas that were rescinded have now been reinstated, the note said. And business was back to the way it was before Trump issued his executive order.
"It is as if the Executive Order never existed," the note said.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement saying it had "suspended any and all actions" regarding the affected sections of the executive order. "DHS personnel will resume inspection of travelers in accordance with standard policy and procedure."
The statement said the Department of Justice intended to file an emergency legal action to overturn the stay.
"The Order is intended to protect the homeland and the American people, and the President has no higher duty and responsibility than to do so," the statement said.
Trump himself expressed his dismay at the court ruling in a series of tweets on Saturday morning, saying "the opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!"
On Saturday morning, people began immediately to resume efforts to fly to the U.S. (NBCNews)