Will revised restrictions pass legal muster?
WASHINGTON: The American Civil Liberties Union and others are lining up to challenge United States President Donald Trump’s revised ban on refugees and travellers from six mainly Muslim countries.
But can they succeed in overturning a measure that was deliberately crafted to remove the red flags raised by US courts? That might be more difficult.
This time, there is unlikely to be a backdrop of airport chaos and mass detentions to help lawyers make the case that people’s rights were being trampled.
The White House has rolled out a process to avoid a repeat of the confusion caused by its first travel ban, which was imposed with no notice and little preparation one week into Trump’s presidency.
The new order issued on Monday suspended US entry for all refugees for 120 days, and the issuing of new visas for nationals of Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan for 90 days.
Although similar to the first travel ban, it has been changed in significant ways to pass muster with the courts.
The new restrictions do not go into effect until March 16, giving travellers 10 days to prepare for the changes.
Crucially, the new order exempts permanent US residents and visa holders, and allowed waivers on a case-by-case basis.
It also drops Iraq from the list of countries targeted by the ban.
The administration’s strategy appears designed to address the kind of situations that ignited public outrage and made the travel ban politically radioactive.
There was the case of an Iranian baby who could not travel for specialised medical treatment in the US. That could now be dealt with using a waiver.
Foreign students and Silicon Valley executives were stranded abroad, and entire families detained at airports. As long as they have visas, they should no longer face that risk under the new rules.
Lawyers for Hawaii on Tuesday informed courts there of their plan to file a challenge to the revised ban yesterday.
If filed, it would be the first challenge to the tweaked ban.
Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, called Trump’s new order a “backdoor Muslim ban”.