UPDATE — 11/13, 5:30 p.m. EST: The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco granted part of a DOJ request to temporarily allow President Trump’s travel ban order to go into effect, barring citizens from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Chad with no “formal, documented” institutional or family connections from entering the U.S.
The decision overturns a ruling by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii which placed a temporary restraining order on the White House’s action to restrict travel from six of the eight countries listed in the executive order, not including Venezuela and North Korea.
Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland issued separate rulings on Tuesday, Oct. 17, which blocked individual aspects of President Trump’s latest travel ban, issued in September, from going into effect.
Hawaii district court judge, Derrick Watson, ruled Trump’s emended executive order remained problematic because it disfavored a particular religion and granted plaintiffs’ request for a temporary restraining order against the ban.
District Judge Theodore Chuang of Greenbelt, Md., issued a preliminary injunction, explaining the president’s Twitter feed showed the ban was an “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban” that Trump called for during the 2016 presidential campaign and was therefore most likely unconstitutional.
Trump’s latest travel ban order blackballed eight countries, adding Chad, Venezuela and North Korea to the list of nations with restricted access to American shores, while whitelisting Sudan.
In his ruling, Judge Watson said the latest version of the ban “lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,'” addressing another aspect of the executive order, which sought to cap the number of admitted refugees at 45,000.
A new problem also became apparent in the White House’s latest order: terms of the third travel ban clarified that familial relations should play a part in determining who was allowed to stay in the U.S. The order stipulated, however, that grandparents, uncles, sister-in-laws, brother-in-laws, nephews, nieces and cousins did not qualify as “family members”.
The new policy was set to go into effect Wednesday, Oct. 11, but was blocked just hours before its implementation by Watson, who stated such guidelines failed to meet “common sense” application.
Responding immediately to the news, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the ruling “undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe.”
“These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation,” she said. “We are therefore confident that the judiciary will ultimately uphold the president’s lawful and necessary action and swiftly restore its vital protections for the safety of the American people.”
Since the second order, issued in March, expired “of its own terms” in September, the Supreme Court vacated both lawsuits challenging the ban on Tuesday, Oct. 24, brought by the state of Hawaii, and the ACLU and International Refugee Assistance Project in Maryland.
Earlier this week, however, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to hear a challenge to the Maryland case, with arguments scheduled for Dec. 8. A federal appeals court hearing in San Francisco to decide the lawsuit originating in Hawaii will begin Dec. 6.
Despite the legal controversy, the Justice Department continues to back the president’s order. In March, for example, DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Trump’s travel order “falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation’s security.”
The White House has deflected negative publicity regarding the president’s decision, arguing court rulings against ban have been temporary. In September, a senior administration official claimed the new restrictions are not meant to last forever, but are “necessary and conditions-based, not time-based.”
It is clear that the Trump administration is determined to revamp the travel ban so long as the president’s efforts are contested. Judge Watson’s most recent ruling to block the ban from going into effect may follow the same course as its predecessors, overridden by yet another version of the article; it remains to be seen whether the travel ban trilogy will become a saga.
Editor’s note: This article has been update to include the second appeals hearing scheduled for Dec. 6.
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