Trump’s Second Travel Ban Blocked by Two Federal Courts

March 17th, 2017

On March 15, 2017, a federal district court in Hawaii temporarily blocked Trump’s second travel ban finding that it violated the US Constitution’s Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and that the Trump administration failed to provide sufficient evidence of a threat to national security. In particular, Judge Watson held that a reasonable objective observer could find that the order was “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”

Also, a Maryland federal judge on March 16, 2017, became the second to suspend the implementation of the latest immigration ban.

President Donald Trump signed a new executive order on March 6, 2017, that temporarily bars certain people from six Muslim majority countries and refugees from entering the US as of March 16, 2017. His first travel ban order was suspended in the federal courts. The essential points of the travel ban are the following:

• Prohibits citizens of Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Syria from entering the US for 90 days;
• Bars refugees from entering the US for 120 days;
• Provides a waiver for some people on a case-by-case basis;
• Immediately suspends the visa interview waiver program; and
• Reduces the total annual number of refugees to 50,000 regardless of country of origin.

This travel ban differs from the first one in the following ways:

• Removes Iraq from the list;
• Does not suspend entry for current visa holders or legal permanent residents;
• Removes the facially discriminatory priority for Christian minority religions; and
• Allows travel for those whose visas were revoked under the first executive order.

This new executive order is still discriminatory, deleterious, ineffectual and unnecessary. Although the language of the executive order explicitly denies discriminatory intent, such intent still exists and will be subject to the same constitutional challenge as the first one. Also, there is no new screening mechanism that does not already exist in some form as a result of the enhanced digitization of the National Visa Center, President Obama’s enhanced screening. Furthermore, the order’s two examples of “terrorism” used to justify this ban include one act allegedly committed by a US citizen who came to the US as a child, and one act committed by two from Iraq, which is no longer on the travel ban list.

This executive order vilifies Muslims and will only exacerbate Islamophobia in the US. It will not make us any safer and will only add fodder to the fodder to the terrorists’ recruitment campaign. Also, it is inimical to our core values, since the US Constitution prohibits religious discrimination and freedom of religion.