Hawaii judge blocks Trump’s latest travel ban

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The Trump administration unveiled new travel restrictions on September 24, 2017 on certain foreigners from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as a replacement to a central portion of its travel ban signed earlier this year.

A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban one day before it was set to take effect.

Judge Derrick Watson said the travel ban — Trump’s third version of the policy — “plainly discriminates based on nationality.”

The President’s executive order “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,'” Watson wrote.

The second version of the travel ban, issued in March, had barred residents of six Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The new restrictions that were set to take effect Wednesday cover eight countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia and Yemen. Tuesday’s ruling does not impact the restrictions on North Korea and Venezuela.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the ruling “dangerously flawed.”

“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,” Sanders said in a statement.

The Justice Department will “appeal in an expeditious manner,” spokesman Ian Prior said. “Today’s ruling is incorrect, fails to properly respect the separation of powers, and has the potential to cause serious negative consequences for our national security.”

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin celebrated the order. The state has been fighting each version of the travel ban.

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” Chin said in a statement. “Today is another victory for the rule of law. We stand ready to defend it.”

The Supreme Court was been scheduled to hear arguments this month on the previous version of the ban, but changed course once the new version came out late last month.

It is “almost certain,” CNN’s Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said, that “travel ban three will be on a rocket ride to the Supreme Court and we will get a resolution one way or another.”

Judge’s concerns

In his 40-page ruling, Watson repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for failing to adequately address concerns he and other judges have about the orders.

“Professional athletes mirror the federal government in this respect: they operate within a set of rules, and when one among them forsakes those rules in favor of his own, problems ensue. And so it goes with EO-3,” Watson wrote.

Even after the administration completed a worldwide review of the vetting procedures of different countries it had still not satisfied him on several fronts, the judge wrote. “Like its predecessor,” he said, the revised order makes no finding that “nationality alone” would make a broad class of individuals a heightened security risk. He also questioned why “existing law” would be “insufficient to address the President’s described concerns.”

While the travel restrictions were developed country by country, the findings “make no effort to explain why some types of visitors from a particular country are banned, while others are not,” Watson said.