Amidst all the recent discussion of sanctuary cities, Dreamers and DACA, you may have forgotten that President Trump's other controversial move impacting immigrants and travelers into the US, primarily those from Muslim-majority nations, remains in play after a third attempt by Trump and the Department of Justice to issue a broad-reaching travel ban. Now, less than a day before the latest ban issued in late September via executive proclamation was set to take effect, a federal judge in Hawaii has issued a nationwide order temporarily blocking the ban, as the New York Times reports. In his order, Judge Derrick K. Watson writes that this latest attempt at a ban targeting eight nations "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor."
Watson further makes a comparison to the rules governing professional sports, saying, "Professional athletes mirror the federal government in this respect: they operate within a set of rules, and when one among them forsakes those rules in favor of his own, problems ensue."
The DOJ has not yet responded to the ruling, and it appears that President Trump is preoccupied this afternoon with the Prime Minister of Greece and has not yet tweeted his own thoughts.
The revised travel ban, as the Washington Post reported, issued on September 24 and set to take effect in the early morning hours of October 18, went further than the previous ban, which had only created temporary moratoriums on travel from six Muslim-majority nations. The revised restrictions made some bans indefinite, and made exceptions for certain countries, but included restrictions for travelers from eight countries: Iran, Yemen, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Chad, Venezuela, and Somalia. The ban had broad restrictions on immigration from North Korea, Syria, and Somalia, creating an exception for Iranian students upon enhanced screening, and barring entry of immigrants and nonimmigrants from Chad, Libya and Yemen on business, tourist or business-tourist visas. Restrictions for Venezuelans are more narrow and previously included countries Iraq and Sudan have dropped off the DOJ's list.
Trump said in September that the restrictions were necessary to "protect the security and interests of the United States and its people," but critics have said that current screening and visa-application procedures for travelers from all of these countries are already extremely stringent, and that this has all been part of the president's political theater.
Thus far the Supreme Court has shown itself to be potentially sympathetic to the idea that the Executive branch has the power to issue such bans on travel and immigration, however they have not yet had to rule directly on a challenge to one of the president's orders, instead knocking them back to lower courts. After Trump issued the revised ban last month, SCOTUS dismissed an earlier challenge to the ban saying it was now moot, as USA Today reported.
Watson is the same federal judge who blocked Trump's revised version of his initial travel ban, back in March, and his order was subsequently appealed by the administration and upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals though the Supreme Court would later allow certain aspects of the ban to move forward. Those aspects, which temporarily barred travel for non-family members from six countries, are now expiring.