The second version of US President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order temporarily barring refugees and migrants from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the US was subjected to immediate court challenges from several states and advocacy groups. Now, the so-called “travel ban” will not go into effect today as scheduled after two separate federal judges issued temporary restraining orders blocking it, the New York Times reports:
[I]n a pointed decision that repeatedly invoked Mr. Trump’s public comments, Judge Derrick K. Watson, of Federal District Court in Honolulu, wrote that a “reasonable, objective observer” would view even the new order as “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”
In Maryland, Judge Theodore D. Chuang echoed that conclusion hours later, ruling in a case brought by nonprofit groups that work with refugees and immigrants, that the likely purpose of the executive order was “the effectuation of the proposed Muslim ban” that Mr. Trump pledged to enact as a presidential candidate.
In response, Trump lashed out at Judge Watson at a campaign-style rally in Nashville on Wednesday evening, accusing him of blocking the order for “political reasons” and also criticizing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear any appeal of Watson’s order. He also told supporters he was thinking about re-issuing the original version of the order, which was withdrawn after also being swiftly blocked in federal court, though it is not clear whether the president was serious.
The Justice Department says it intends to defend the order in court, and maintains that none of the language in the current version can be construed as imposing a religious test on travelers. The administration had deliberately rewritten the order to better survive a court challenge, but if appeals court judges also accept Trump’s campaign rhetoric as evidence of religious animus in this executive order, the legal battle over the order may be extensive. Trump said at his Wednesday rally that he was prepared to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, the Washington Post notes.
The administration will likely move quickly to appeal these rulings and move to have the injunctions lifted. While the ultimate fate of the travel ban remains uncertain, it is a policy priority for the Trump administration and could still go into effect once the court’s concerns are satisfied, so employers should still have plans in place to comply with the order and deal with the contingencies it is likely to create in terms of international recruiting and business travel. Much better to be prepared for a policy change that is fairly likely but not certain to happen than be caught flat-footed when it finally does.
For more on how Trump’s immigration policies stand to affect employers and the workforce, check out our comprehensive explainer, and follow Talent Daily for continuing news coverage of the travel ban and other major policy changes with talent implications.