Federal Judge Blocks President Trump's Travel Ban

The executive order was the administration's second attempt to restrict travel to the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries.

Published Mar 15, 2017

 (cla78 / Shutterstock)
Image Via cla78 / Shutterstock

A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked what would have been a 90-day ban on travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen:

It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from terrorist attacks, including those committed by foreign nationals.  The screening and vetting protocols and procedures associated with the visa-issuance process and the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) play a crucial role in detecting foreign nationals who may commit, aid, or support acts of terrorism and in preventing those individuals from entering the United States.

It would have also affected refugees attempting to enter the U.S., blocking travel to the country for 120 days, and ended a Syria refugee program entirely.

On 15 March 2017, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson called the Trump administration's argument that the ban was a matter of national security "questionable":

Hawaii is one of several US states trying to stop the ban.

The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.

President Trump said it would stop terrorists from entering the US but critics say it is discriminatory.

This is the second time that the United States has attempted to push through a ban on travel from specific countries. The first, issued on 27 January 2017, affected seven countries (the six named in this iteration of the ban, plus Iraq)  and wreaked havoc in airports worldwide:

After a federal court in Seattle issued a broad injunction against the policy, Mr. Trump removed major provisions and reissued the order. The new version exempted key groups, like green card and visa holders, and dropped the section that would have given Christians special treatment.

Mr. Trump also removed Iraq from the list of countries covered by the ban after the Pentagon expressed worry that it would damage the United States’ relationship with the Iraqi government in the fight against the Islamic State.

Judge Watson said that the order violated the religious establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, and that an order discriminating against some Muslims is just as legally specious as one that discriminates against them all:

Watson issued his 43-page ruling early this afternoon after hearing arguments from both sides this morning. He said the state “preliminarily demonstrated” that its universities will suffer monetary damages and intangible harms and the state’s economy is likely to suffer a loss of revenue due to a decline in tourism because of the order.

Watson, who was appointed to the court by former President Barack Obama, said he intends to set an expedited hearing to determine whether the temporary restraining order should be extended.

The National Immigration Law Center's executive director, Marielena Hincapié, issued the a statement about the ruling:

Trump's discriminatory Muslim and refugee ban, in any iteration, is a clear example of how this administration uses the politics of fear and hate to enact its xenophobic agenda. The courts and the country saw through this effort, which has been roundly rejected over and over. It’s clear that no amount of tweaking will undo the discriminatory intent behind this policy. Today's decision is a victory for the rule of law and reminder that no one – not even the president – is above the Constitution.

Hawaii was the first state to challenge the second travel hold.

Brooke Binkowski is a former editor for Snopes.