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Trump's 3rd travel ban blocked: A closer look at the Hawaii court order

FILE: Supporters demonstrate at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. A federal court judge in Hawaii on Tuesday blocked the latest travel ban restricting entry of nationals of certain countries, mostly Muslim-majority nations, that the Trump administration views as security risks.
FILE: Supporters demonstrate at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. A federal court judge in Hawaii on Tuesday blocked the latest travel ban restricting entry of nationals of certain countries, mostly Muslim-majority nations, that the Trump administration views as security risks.
Damian Dovarganes/AP

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A federal judge in Hawaii on Tuesday blocked President Trump’s third attempt at restricting travel from certain countries, mostly majority Muslim nations. The latest travel ban, announced last month, was set to take effect Wednesday.

(Note: A federal judge in Maryland also blocked parts of the ban on Tuesday, granting a preliminary injunction filed by plaintiffs led by the International Refugee Assistance Project. Here's more on that court order.)

The decision raises questions about the impact of the court order, who is affected, and what's next. Here are some answers:

What does the Hawaii court decision mean?

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick K. Watson's temporary restraining order blocks the restrictions or suspension of visas for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. They are among eight nations affected by Trump's latest travel ban, proclaimed last month

The state of Hawaii argued that the travel ban, as well as previous ones, discriminated against Muslims. In blocking the travel ban, the judge stated in his order that the latest travel ban "plainly discriminates based on nationality."

Under the court order, nationals of the six countries who are waiting or applying for visas to enter the U.S. should see their documents processed as usual. The court order does not apply to affected travelers from the two non-Muslim majority nations on the restricted list, Venezuela and North Korea. 

What were the restrictions suspended by the court order?

The latest restrictions were to replace a temporary travel ban first put in place by the Trump administration in late January, then revised in March following legal challenges. The initial ban in January created chaos in the airports nationwide, including at Los Angeles International Airport, as travelers were detained and, in some cases, forced to return to their originating countries.

It severely restricted travel from six Muslim-majority countries: Syria, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan. In September, Sudan was dropped from the list, and Chad, North Korea and Venezuela were added. Federal officials said all of the countries under restrictions were chosen because they failed to cooperate with the United States on security and counterterrorism efforts.

Immigrant travel was suspended for most countries. But other restrictions applied differently, depending on the country. Non-immigrant travel was suspended or restricted for most countries, for example, but student and exchange visitor visas from Iran were not. And for Venezuelans, visas were only suspended for certain government officials and their families. 

The latest restrictions did not apply to refugees. A separate set of temporary restrictions placed on refugees by the administration earlier this year is set to expire later this month.

Will the court order apply to countries other than those that are majority Muslim?

Tuesday's court order does not apply to nationals of North Korea and Venezuela, so the restrictions could still be enforced. However, the impact for nationals of both countries is limited, especially for Venezuela, since Trump's proclamation applies only to a limited category of individuals from there.

North Korea has very strict exit policies so very few travelers from that country make it into the United States each year, whether as immigrants, refugees or visitors. According to federal data, the U.S. issued only 55 green cards for permanent U.S. residency in 2015 to people born in North Korea.

What is the reaction to the court order from the Trump administration? 

The White House issued a statement saying the decision "undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe" and that the Justice Department will "vigorously defend the President’s lawful action."

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke issued a statement saying the travel requirements are "essential to securing the homeland."

"While we will comply with any lawful judicial order, we look forward to prevailing in this matter upon appeal," Duke wrote.

What comes next?

The effect of the court order will be seen at consulates and embassies where visa applications are processed and where, with the latest court order, things should proceed as normal.

But the Trump administration's stricter vetting of applicants from countries that officials view as security risks that is part of the second executive order does not go away, said Jonathan Smith, legal director for Muslim Advocates, an Oakland-based legal advocacy group that is involved in a different legal challenge to the latest travel ban. 

"The travel restrictions were temporary and the refugee restrictions were temporary, but other sections did not have time limits," Smith said. 

The administration said it plans to appeal the latest order and would likely fight any effort to seek a permanent injunction. As with previous attempts to impose a travel ban, the legal battle will likely find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A rally organized by opponents of the travel ban was scheduled for Wednesday in Washington, D.C. 

This story has been updated.