Sec­ond fed­eral judge also blocks travel ban

Rul­ing ex­presses doubt ban’s main pur­pose is se­cu­rity.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Jaweed Kaleem Los Angeles Times

Md. ju­rist’s na­tional or­der halts part of ban that bars trav­el­ers from six ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim na­tions.

A fed­eral district judge in Mary­land on Thurs­day blocked a key part of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s re­tooled ex­ec­u­tive or­der that sus­pended travel from six ma­jor­ity-Mus­lim coun­tries.

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang said the court or­der, which blocks the pro­vi­sion of Trump’s travel ban that called for a halt to im­mi­gra­tion from the six coun­tries, ap­plies na­tion­ally. The court or­der does not in­clude a rul­ing on other parts of the travel ban.

The judge’s rul­ing fol­lowed a wider or­der is­sued Wed­nes­day in a Hawaii fed­eral court, where a judge also blocked the sus­pen­sion of im­mi­gra­tion from the coun­tries as well as the pres­i­dent’s at­tempt to pause and cap refugee re­set­tle­ment.

The two rul­ings ef­fec­tively halted the most sig­nif­i­cant parts of the re­vised travel or­der and set the stage for fights in higher courts at op­po­site ends of the na­tion and the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum: the 9th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in San Fran­cisco, which tends to is­sue lib­eral rul­ings, and the gen­er­ally con­ser­va­tive 4th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals in Rich­mond, Va.

The rul­ings are not per­ma­nent but are meant to stop the travel ban while fur­ther court pro­ceed­ings de­ter­mine its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity.

In his 43-page opin­ion in the Mary­land case, Chuang wrote that it was “likely” that Trump’s ban vi­o­lated the Con­sti­tu­tion by dis­crim­i­nat­ing against Mus­lims.

Ar­gu­ing the case Wed­nes­day, lawyers from the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union and the Na­tional Im­mi­gra­tion Law Cen­ter said the new or­der — which was sup­posed to go into ef­fect na­tion­wide Thurs­day — would pre­vent fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion and dis­crim­i­nate on the ba­sis of re­li­gion.

Chuang, who was nom­i­nated to the bench by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, wrote that, con­trary to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­tentions, there were “strong in­di­ca­tions that the na­tional se­cu­rity pur­pose is not the pri­mary pur­pose for the travel ban.”

The judge heav­ily quoted from Trump’s state­ments on the cam­paign trial — where he promised to sus­pend Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion — and after his elec­tion win, as well as state­ments by the Trump cam­paign and White House as­so­ciates on the travel ban’s pur­pose.

The de­ci­sions in Mary­land and Hawaii marked back-to-back blows for the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, which had al­ready suf­fered a ma­jor de­feat last month when a Seat­tle judge is­sued a na­tional halt to the first ver­sion of the travel ban.

Trump had said his re­vised or­der, is­sued March 6, would be “tai­lored” to sur­vive le­gal chal­lenges in “bad” courts. Yet, speak­ing at a Nashville, Tenn., rally after the Hawaii de­ci­sion, Trump de­scribed the new or­der as a “wa­tered­down” ver­sion of the prior one and said he thought “we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way.”

At the rally, Trump also vowed to “take our case as far as it needs to go, in­clud­ing all the way up to the Supreme Court.”

The orig­i­nal or­der, signed Jan. 27, spurred tens of thou­sands of visa can­cel­la­tions, chaos at U.S. in­ter­na­tional air­ports and dozens of law­suits. It also sought to stop refugee re­set­tle­ment from all coun­tries for 120 days — and from Syria in­def­i­nitely — and banned cit­i­zens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria and Ye­men from en­ter­ing the U.S. for 90 days while the gov­ern­ment re­viewed its vet­ting pro­ce­dures.

A fed­eral judge in Seat­tle halted that or­der in Fe­bru­ary after hear­ing ar­gu­ments that it was dis­crim­i­na­tory against Mus­lims and could harm Washington state’s uni­ver­si­ties, busi­nesses and res­i­dents. His de­ci­sion was up­held by a three-judge panel of the 9th Cir­cuit court.

The new or­der tried to ad­dress court con­cerns by re­mov­ing a pref­er­ence for refugees who are re­li­gious mi­nori­ties and giv­ing ex­emp­tions from the ban to green card hold­ers and those who al­ready have valid visas. It also re­moved Iraq from the list of coun­tries whose na­tion­als could not travel to the U.S.

FRANK AUGSTEIN / AP

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional ac­tivists hold ban­ners in Lon­don on Thurs­day against the planned in­tro­duc­tion of the re­vised travel ban. A sec­ond fed­eral judge blocked part of the new ver­sion of the or­der Thurs­day.

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