On October 17, Judge Derrick Watson, a Hawaii federal judge, granted a Temporary Restraining Order or TRO ) in the case Hawaii v. Trump, blocking the majority of the travel restrictions set forth in President Trump’s September 24, 2017 proclamation The TRO invalidated Trump's instruction only hours before it was set to be enforced on October 18, 2017. This decision is not the first time that the judiciary has invalidated Trump's immigration plans as Watson had also blocked the previous travel ban in March 2017.
The travel ban imposed restrictions on eight different countries – Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Somalia, and Yemen. The proclamation was often referred to as a "Muslin ban" because it directly impacted populations from six-Muslim majority countries (Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen). The TRO temporarily enjoins the implementation and enforcement of sections 2(a), (b), (c), (e), (g), and (h) of the proclamation. The grant of the TRO only responds to the restriction on the entry of nationals from the six-Muslim majority countries, meaning that the restrictions imposed on North Korea, Venezuela, and Chad are still in place.
Amongst the arguments and reasoning for granting the TRO, Judge Watson states that the proclamation does not maintain sufficient findings to show that the entry of more than 150 million nationals would be “detrimental to the Interests of the United States.” He deemed the travel ban to be “discriminatory in nationality” and “antithetical to the founding principles of this nation.”
Also on October 17, U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland issued a nationwide preliminary injunction in the case IRAP v. Trump prohibiting the enforcement of section 2 of the President’s proclamation, except with regard to (1) nationals of North Korea and Venezuela and (2) individuals lacking a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.
As a response, the White House called the TRO grant a “dangerously flawed” decision. They defend the proclamation by explaining that the Department of Justice will “vigorously defend the President’s lawful action” and that the proclamation contains restrictions which are deemed “vital” to maintain “the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our Nation.”
In light of these rulings, nationals of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad will not be restricted from traveling to the United States. On the other hand, all immigrants and nonimmigrants from North Korea and certain government officials and their family members from Venezuela traveling on business or tourist visas (B-1/B-2) will continue to be restricted from travel to the U.S. pursuant to the presidential proclamation.
The U.S. Department of Justice has stated that it will appeal these rulings. In the meantime, the U.S. State Department has reportedly confirmed that officials will “resume regular processing of visas” for nationals of Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
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