A federal judge in Maryland yesterday granted a nationwide preliminary injunction against the latest version of the Trump administration’s travel ban, following a similar order earlier in the week by a judge in Hawaii.
The third iteration of President Trump’s travel ban was announced in September and would have banned travelers from six mostly-Muslim countries – Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen – as well as two other countries, North Korea and Venezuela. The Trump administration said the ban was based on assessments of various countries’ ability to properly screen travelers and willingness to share security information with the U.S.
The travel ban was hours away from taking effect Wednesday when U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu issued a halt on its implementation for all of the countries except North Korea and Venezuela. Watson did not address whether the administration’s intent in imposing the ban was to discriminate against Muslims. He instead merely said that the president’s latest order “contains internal incoherencies that markedly undermine its stated ‘national security’ rationale.”
The Justice Department had already vowed to appeal Watson’s ruling when U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang issued a separate ruling that blocks the administration from enforcing the travel ban on those who lacked a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. Chuang’s ruling went on to assert that the president’s own comments on the campaign trail are evidence that the ban is intended to discriminate against Muslims.
“To the extent that the Government might have provided additional evidence to establish that national security is now the primary purpose for the travel ban, it has not done so,” Chuang said. “Of course, even if such evidence was forthcoming, its value in obviating the taint of the earlier Executive Orders would be limited.”
The White House, which has repeatedly cited national security concerns as the reason for the travel ban, called the decisions this week “dangerously flawed.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week, said the administration will vigorously defend its right to put the travel restrictions in place.
“The president’s executive order is an important step in ensuring that we know who is coming into our country,” Sessions said. “The order is lawful, necessary and we are proud to defend it. We are confident that we will ultimately prevail.”