Federal Judges Block Latest Version of US Travel Ban

Federal Judges Block Latest Version of US Travel Ban

Last month, the Trump administration introduced a revised, expanded, and non-time-limited version of the temporary travel ban the government had sought to impose on nationals of several countries in March. The original travel ban was blocked by two separate federal judges who ruled it discriminatory, particularly against Muslims. Those injunctions were partly lifted by the US Supreme Court when it agreed to hear the case against the travel ban in June. The new ban issued in September was meant to address some of these legal issues, and subtracted Iraq from the list while adding two non-Muslim majority countries, North Korea and Venezuela. The new ban also applies different sets of restrictions to different countries.

The same two federal judges, however, ruled that these differences were insufficient to defeat claims of discrimination. US District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson in Hawaii largely shot down the new ban on Tuesday in a ruling that restricts the administration from barring travelers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, and Somalia, but leaves in place the limited restrictions it imposed on travel from North Korea and Venezuela, the Washington Post reported:

In a 40-page decision granting the state of Hawaii’s request for a temporary restraining order, Watson wrote that the latest ban “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it 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.’” He also wrote that the executive order “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in a way that was opposed to federal law and “the founding principles of this Nation.”

Later on Tuesday, Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland also issued a ruling blocking the ban from applying to travelers with bona fide ties to a US person or business, Politico reports, following a guideline devised by the Supreme Court in June.

The new ban was scheduled to go into effect today, October 18, but will now have to pass yet another court challenge. The Supreme Court canceled its scheduled hearing on the previous ban last month and asked attorneys for the government and the challengers in the case of the previous travel ban to submit briefs addressing “whether, or to what extent, the proclamation” moots the existing case. If the high court does declare that case moot, however, the government’s appeal of these new challenges could put the issue back on their agenda soon.