Appeals court allows partial enforcement of Trump travel ban
SEATTLE — On the same day a federal appeals court allowed part of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to take effect, advocacy groups filed a new lawsuit Monday challenging the administration’s related efforts to restrict or ban certain refugees from entering the U.S.
The developments came as lawyers on both sides of the issue are preparing for yet another round of appeals court arguments next month. They’re the latest sign that after nearly 10 months, the battle about the president’s travel restrictions — and whether they represent the “Muslim ban” he promised during his campaign or a legitimate effort to improve national security — is far from over.
“The president is making every effort to implement a campaign promise that’s un-American and unconstitutional,” said Mark Hetfield, president of the refugee support organization HIAS. “The only way to stop him is through the courts.”
Last month, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked most of Trump’s third travel ban just before it was set to take effect. A judge in Maryland separately blocked it to a lesser degree, saying Trump could bar people from six mostly Muslim nations — Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — as long as they did not have “bona fide” relationships with people or organizations already in the U.S.
The travel ban also applies to travelers from North Korea and some Venezuelan government officials and their families, but the lawsuits did not challenge those restrictions.
The Justice Department sought to put the Hawaii judge’s ruling on hold pending arguments scheduled for Dec. 6 at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle. The three-judge panel due to hear those arguments agreed in part Monday, saying in effect that the ruling from U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu went too far.
But the 9th Circuit rejected the government’s request to let the latest travel ban take effect as written pending the outcome of the Hawaii case. Instead, they adopted an approach similar to that of U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland — and to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in a case challenging the second travel ban that those with bona fide connections could enter the country.
The Maryland case is due to be argued before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Dec. 8.
As a companion measure to his travel ban, which applies to those seeking to move to or visit the U.S., Trump last month also announced a new policy on admitting refugees. It imposes tight new restrictions on refugees from 11 countries deemed to warrant extra screening and indefinitely suspends a program that reunites refugees in the U.S. with their overseas spouses and children.
The 11 countries are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, the Republic of South Sudan, Syria, Yemen. The order also applies to certain stateless Palestinian males.
According to the lawsuit filed by the refugee assistance groups Monday, more than 80 percent of the refugees resettled from those 11 countries during the past two fiscal years have been Muslim. Thus, halting their admission for 90 days will disproportionately affect Muslim refugees, the lawsuit said.
Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin talks to reporters May 15 outside a federal courthouse in Seattle.