Federal Judges Freeze Trump Travel Ban 2.0

The rulings immediately block the president's revised executive order nationwide

A woman in Los Angeles protests against President Trump's travel order — REUTERS
Mar 15, 2017 at 7:18 PM ET

A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump’s revamped immigration ban late Wednesday, just hours before it was to go into effect. Another judge in Maryland made a similar ruling on Thursday morning.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, in Hawaii, placed a nationwide freeze on the new executive order, which would temporarily restrict travel from several Muslim-majority countries and halt the U.S. refugee program. Watson was one of three federal judges around the U.S. to hear arguments seeking an injunction to the new directive on Wednesday. The other two were James Robart of Washington, who issued the restraining order against Trump’s first attempt at a travel ban, and Maryland’s Theodore Chuang.

The hearing in Hawaii came in response to a lawsuit filed by the state last week. In it, the state alleged that the new travel ban — much like its first iteration — was unconstitutional because it targeted Muslims. Lawyers for the state also argued that Hawaii’s economy and educational and religious institutions would suffer because of the order. Watson issued a temporary restraining order against the enforcement of sections 2 and 6 of the new ban, which were supposed to suspend travel from certain countries and temporarily stop refugees from those countries from entering America, respectively. Chuang’s ruling was narrower, stopping the enforcement of Section 2(c), which temporarily bars nationals from six countries from entering the United States, nationwide because he believed the courts would later rule that it was unconstitutional.

Both rulings referenced statements made by Trump or his surrogates about banning all Muslims from the country and the executive orders being methods of doing so, including television appearances before and after Trump’s election and a 2015 statement on Trump’s website that calls for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Though that statement has repeatedly been referenced in rulings against the bans, it inexplicably remains on the site to this day.

Trump spoke out against the Hawaii ruling at a rally in Nashville shortly after it came down.

“This ruling makes us look weak,” he said. “The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first order that was also blocked by another judge and should have never been blocked to start with.”

Trump said he wanted to “go back to the first” executive order and take it to the Supreme Court.

Trump’s revised travel order, signed by the president on March 6, kept much of the initial ban intact. It continued to bar citizens from six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen — from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The order also suspended refugee admissions worldwide for 120 days.

The new ban did contain some changes. For example, it removed Iraq — which is helping the U.S. battle the Islamic State — from the initial list of restricted travel countries. And the order exempted legal permanent residents and those with a valid visas, many of whom were detained at U.S. airports after Trump signed his first order in late January. The White House maintains that its revised travel order seeks to limit threats to national security, an area over which the president had broad authority to act.

Lawyers seeking to block Trump’s new directive, which include nonprofit groups and Democratic state attorneys general, have alleged that it still amounts to a thinly-veiled crackdown on Muslim migrants.