In a significant development, another version of US President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration was barred by a federal judge on Tuesday. The decision by US Hawaii district judge Derrick Watson came just hours before it was due to go into full effect.
According to latest reports, the White House has signalled its intent to appeal against the district court order in Supreme Court.
In his order, the judge said Watson said that third rendition of the travel ban — covering people from six mainly Muslim countries, as well as North Korea and some officials from Venezuela — could not be justified under law.
“The ban suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specific countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,” the judge said in his order.
The newest order was announced last month to replace an expiring 90-day temporary ban on travellers from the Muslim- majority nations of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Though the executive order had removed Sudan from the list, it added Chad and North Korea for full bans and Venezuela for a ban limited to certain classes of officials.
The White House justified the measure as needed to protect US national security — but critics said it appeared virtually the same as the original order of January 27.
The earlier executive orders were barred after several litigations were filed against it. The courts, while the banning the earlier order, had said it targeted Muslims, violating the US constitutional protections for religious freedom.
In June, the Supreme Court accepted to review the case but let the 90-day ban go mostly into effect in the meantime. When the ban expired, the court said there was nothing to rule on.
Trump then went forward with a new version with no expiry date, adding North Korea and Venezuela to the list of targeted countries and implying the updated measure did not simply target Muslim countries.
But Hawaii district judge Watson — who also issued freezes on the first two attempts — said the order does not improve US security, since individuals who pose risks can already be denied entry under existing law. The order “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in a manner antithetical to US laws “and the founding principles of this nation,” he wrote.
Watson placed a freeze on the ban on travellers from the six countries, but allowed it to be implemented on North Korea — which sent only a handful of people to the United States last year — and Venezuela, where US sanctions have also already made travel to the United States difficult for many officials.
(With inputs from Agencies)