US & World

Federal judge in Maryland blocks Trump's latest travel ban attempt

Omar Jadwat, center, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, speaks at a news conference outside a federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Md.
Omar Jadwat, center, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, speaks at a news conference outside a federal courthouse in Greenbelt, Md.
Patrick Semansky/AP

A federal judge in Maryland has blocked parts of President Trump's most recent attempt to impose broad limits on who can enter the U.S., granting a motion for a preliminary injunction that was filed by plaintiffs led by the International Refugee Assistance Project.

The plaintiffs "have established that they are likely to succeed on the merits," District Judge Theodore Chuang wrote in dealing another setback to the Trump administration's attempt to ban travel to the U.S. by citizens of certain countries.

The judge's order was filed one day before Trump's ban was set to take effect on Oct. 18.

Chuang said the plaintiffs "are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief, and that the balance of the equities and the public interest favor an injunction."

In his Memorandum Opinion, Chuang noted that then-candidate Trump posted a document called "Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration" on his website in December of 2015. He also traced other references by Trump, including repeated calls for keeping Muslims out of the U.S. and, once in office, an embrace of the presidential order as a "travel ban."

The American Civil Liberties Union has been arguing the case on behalf of the IRAP. Of today's order, Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said, "Like the two versions before it, President Trump's latest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core. And like the two before it, this one is going down to defeat in the courts. Religious discrimination with window dressing is still unconstitutional."

Trump's latest attempt at a travel ban came in late September, when he issued Presidential Proclamation 9645 — which is titled Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats."

The president's ban primarily targeted people from Muslim-majority countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. In an apparent attempt to avoid the "Muslim ban" label that was applied to previous restrictions, the proclamation also included citizens of North Korea and some officials of Venezuela's government.

The injunction targets Section 2 — the portion of the proclamation that lists the nations whose citizens would be barred from entry to the U.S. Similar to an injunction issued by a federal judge in Hawaii in a related case Tuesday, the Maryland court blocked the ban from affecting the Muslim-majority countries on the list, while allowing it to take effect regarding Venezuela and North Korea.

In his order issued early Wednesday, Chuang wrote, "This Preliminary Injunction is granted on a nationwide basis and prohibits the enforcement of Section 2 of Presidential Proclamation 9645 in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas, with the above exceptions, pending further orders from this Court."

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