It “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in a way that’s antithetical to the Constitution, the judge said.
A federal court in Hawaii blocked President Donald Trump’s third and most extensive initiative to limit travel into the United States on Tuesday, just hours before it was set to go into effect.
The International Refugee Assistance Project, the Iranian Alliances Across Borders and various individual plaintiffs, including the state of Hawaii, filed lawsuits in Hawaii and Maryland after the travel ban ― which would indefinitely ban citizens from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen from entering the country ― was announced on Sept. 24. They view this ban as yet another thinly veiled attempt to target Muslims (six out of the eight countries on the list are Muslim-majority).
“EO-3 suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,’” the court order said. The ban also “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the Ninth Circuit has found antithetical to both Section 1152(a) and the founding principles of this Nation.”
Non-visa holders from most of the countries listed have already been banned for the last several months, after the Supreme Court ruled to allow parts of a previous travel ban to go into effect in June. The latest initiative removed Sudan from the list, and added Chad, North Korea and Venezuela. It was planned to go into effect Wednesday.
The changes were interpreted by many as mere political posturing ― an attempt to make the ban appear less overtly targeted toward Muslims.
“This is the third time we feel compelled to ask the courts to block the President’s Muslim ban,” Becca Heller, head of the International Refugee Assistant Project, said Monday. “Each new version is just an updated version of the previous ones, and they all have one goal: to keep out people primarily from majority-Muslim countries. Any supposed national security goals are not based in fact. Instead, millions of people will be harmed indefinitely, including American families and institutions. We will not rest until this cruel and senseless policy is blocked for good.”
The same court had also blocked the second order from going into effect in March.
A White House statement released Tuesday afternoon called the court order “dangerously flawed” and noted the travel ban was issued after an “extensive worldwide security review.”
“The entry restrictions in the proclamation apply to countries based on their inability or unwillingness to share critical information necessary to safely vet applications, as well as a threat assessment related to terrorism, instability, and other grave national security concerns,” the White House said. “These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our Nation.”
The Department of Homeland Security “will comply with any lawful judicial order,” acting secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement, adding that they “look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal.” She said the “requirements are essential to securing the homeland.”