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Judge Halts Travel Ban Hours Before Going Into Effect

By: Daniela Carrion

Just hours before Trump’s new executive order banning six Muslim countries was to go in effect, U.S. District Judge, Derrik K.Watson issued a preliminary decision which prevents the revised executive order from going into effect, at least for now. Judge Watson issued a decision similar to that issued regarding a request from  Washington state  earlier this month, which placed an injunction on the first executive order stating that the executive order violated the constitution by discriminating against a certain religion, and that a reasonable person would conclude that the “stated secular purpose” of the order is “secondary to a religious objective” of temporarily suspending the entry of Muslims.

ACLU attorneys, and others argued that the Trump Administration made statements on the campaign trail and after  Trump took office, in which he openly articulated his intention to ban Muslims. They also argued that the executive order violates the First Amendment which bars the government from favoring or disfavoring any religion.

The Department of Justice argued that the ban was revised to address those specific legal concerns, and it included the removal of an exemption for religious minorities from the affected countries. They also argued that the new executive order would only apply to new visas from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen, and all refugees for 120 days. However, it would not affect travelers who already have visas.

For now, Judge Watson found that the plaintiffs met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of irreparable harm, and of the success in the merits of their claims and has therefore issued a halt to the ban.  

A second federal judge in Maryland ruled against Trump overnight, with a separate order forbidding the core provision of the travel ban from going into effect.  In Maryland, Judge Theodore D. Chuang echoed that preliminary decision hours later, in a case brought by nonprofit groups that work with refugees and immigrants, ruling that the likely purpose of the executive order was “the effectuation of the proposed Muslim ban” that Mr. Trump pledged to enact as a he ran for office.

An issue of contention soon to be addressed in the revised executive order would be similar to the one in Washington earlier this week. Whereby, U.S. District Judge, James Robart, who issued the national injunction of the first ban, raised two questions in order to challenge the ban: whether the ban violates federal immigration law, and whether the affected immigrants would be irreparably harmed should the ban go into effect. Currently there are two conflicts within these issues, one which allows the President the authority to keep “any class of aliens” out of the country, and another which forbids the government from discriminating on the basis of nationality when it comes to issuing visas.

As for local immigrants, this means that for now there will not be a ban from the six named countries and if anyone was planning to travel to and from those countries, they may do so without fear of being held at airports or by customs and immigration officials.