March 16, 2017 – Two separate courts have blocked the latest version of US President Donald Trump’s immigration ban, deeming it a Muslim ban and meaning it did not come into effect as planned on March 16, 2017.
Federal judges first in Hawaii and then in Maryland put temporary restraining orders in place against the 90-day USA immigration ban, for citizens of six Muslim majority countries: Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Hawaii District Court Judge Derrick Watson described the Trump administration’s arguments as illogical, and said there was “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” contained in the executive order.
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Trump fired back, saying the ruling was “unprecedented judicial overreach” during a rally in Nashville.
“We’re going to win. We’re going to keep our citizens safe,” the president said. “The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear.”
The Hawaii ruling was more wide-ranging than the Maryland decision, in that it also covers the part of the order that suspends the U.S. refugee program for 120 days. The Maryland decision was focused only on the Trump immigration ban from the six mentioned countries.
Hawaii Judge Watson delivered his decision in a 43-page document that said lawyers had clearly established that the motive behind the order was a Muslim ban.
This was the Trump administration’s second attempt at the travel ban, after the first one was also suspended by the U.S. courts.
Instead of continuing the initial legal battle, the president’s team decided to issue a second executive order that attempted to deal with some of the legal problems highlighted in the first Trump immigration ban.
The second version also removed Iraq from the list of countries subject to the travel suspension.
However, the judges in both Hawaii and Maryland have decided that enough problems remain in the new order to mean it cannot be lawfully applied.
Application to Canada
Under the new order, permanent residents of Canada with citizenship from any of the six countries targeted can be denied entry to the U.S.
Should the revised ban be imposed, landed immigrants from Canada must apply for a visa waiver from a U.S. Consulate, granted on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, a visa waiver is issued to an individual who proves that a denial of entry would cause undue hardship and admission of the foreign national would not pose a threat to U.S. national security.
The chaos caused by the original order was compounded by a lack of clarity on who it covered and who it did not. Green card holders and dual nationals found themselves prevented from USA immigration, or held at airports when they arrived on U.S. soil.
Iraq was removed from the list following an intensive lobbying campaign at the highest levels of government. It is understood U.S. officials were satisfied that the vetting measures in place for Iraqi immigrants were sufficient.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described Iraq as ‘an important ally’ in the battle against ISIS.
Despite the differences between the two executive orders signed by Trump, it is difficult to see past the fact that if the U.S. courts thought the first one was not legally sound, they ere going to think the same about the second one.
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