What’s been happening?
Earlier this year, Trump signed an executive order which temporarily banned nearly all travellers coming from seven Muslim-majority countries (see WWN #6 – Trump’s Travel Ban & Appeal). It wasn’t received well to say the least, creating chaos at airports and confusion for everyone. After several attorney-generals took the matter to the courts and won, the ban was put on hold.
As a consequence, Trump seems to have decided to write a new ban, one that he has said himself to be a “watered-down version of the order that was blocked by another judge and should never have been blocked to start with”. The second executive order excludes Iraq and narrows the countries down to six – Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. It also explicitly exempts people with valid visas and green cards while making it clear that US agencies will review case-by-case exceptions. These changes appear to be an attempt to
The order was supposed to take effect on 16th of March but in the hours before it could happen, judges in two federal courts (Maryland and Hawaii) have issued temporary restraining orders (TRO) that have blocked Trump’s second travel ban nationwide on the basis that his order is “likely” to violate the constitution. The federal judge in Hawaii said that the order was clearly “issued with a purpose to disfavour a particular religion”. In his ruling, he notes statements in January made by Trump’s adviser Rudolph Gulliani who quoted Trump as having said “Muslim ban” and “Show me the right way to do it legally”. As the rulings are only temporary, further hearing must take place to determine whether they should be extended as the “merits” of the case have not been fully argued.
In an evening rally in Nashville, Tennessee, a visibly irate Trump branded the rulings as an “unprecedented judicial overreach”. His administration contends that the president should retain the power to suspend immigration when he deems it to be in the national interest of the country.
What’s Next? A Legal Battle Ahead
In Trump’s words, he will “take the case as far as it goes”. It’s therefore likely that the revised order will be taken to the courts again, with the Hawaii decision expected to go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This would be the same court that upheld the ruling made by a Seattle court to stay the original travel ban. Other states such as California, New York and Washington state are also looking to take legal action against the revised ban.
Trump also suggested that he may reinstate the first executive order that was blocked but the possibility of this occurring seems quite low as such a move is expected to lead to public backlash against the Trump administration which was apparent during the very short time that the first travel ban was in effect.