US civil liberties group to challenge Trump's new travel ban

WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday launched the first legal challenge to President Donald Trump's new restrictions on people entering the United States from eight countries.

The civil rights group said in a statement that it will seek to amend an existing lawsuit in Maryland federal court that was filed against Trump's previous March 6 ban.

In a letter filed with U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang, the ACLU said the new proposal announced on Sunday violates the U.S. Constitution as well as federal immigration law.

Trump's new ban places indefinite restrictions on travel to the United States for citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. Certain government officials from Venezuela will also be barred.

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BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb after protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy, on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb after protesting in front of the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb after protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy, on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing yellow hazard suits are seen looking at photos on a bulletin board of the North Korean Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists wearing masks to look like US President Donald Trump and North Korean Kim Jong-Un pose next to a Styrofoam effigy of a nuclear bomb while protesting in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the American Embassy on September 13, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The protests, which were organized by anti-nuclear and pro-peace groups, took place at both the North Korean and US embassies. (Photo by Omer Messinger/Getty Images)
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The ACLU will seek an injunction that would block visa and entry restrictions on those affected.

Challengers of Trump's immigration restrictions have said the bans are aimed at following through on a pledge he made on the campaign trail in 2016 to block Muslims from entering the country.

"President Trump's newest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core, and it certainly engages in discrimination based on national origin, which is unlawful," said the ACLU's executive director, Anthony Romero.

"We'll see President Trump in court - again," he added.

The new ban, Trump's third, could affect tens of thousands of potential immigrants and visitors. Trump has argued that the restrictions fulfill his campaign pledge to tighten immigration and security.

“The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the president's inherent authority to keep this country safe,” said Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior.

The ACLU represents several nonprofit groups, including the International Refugee Assistance Project as well as individuals who say they would be affected by the ban, which goes into effect on Oct. 18.

Chuang was one of two district court judges who blocked Trump’s second travel ban, saying "it is likely that its primary purpose remains the effectuation of the proposed Muslim ban."

RELATED: Protests against Trump's  travel ban

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Protests against Trump's proposed travel ban
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Protests against Trump's proposed travel ban
People protest U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
A man holds an umbrella during a protest of U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
A protester from Amnesty International rallies against U.S. President Donald Trump's new executive order temporarily banning the entry of refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries in Sydney, Australia, March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Demonstrator protests against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
A woman protests against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban outside of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Seattle, Washington, U.S. May 15, 2017. REUTERS/David Ryder
Chrissy Pearce protests outside the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse in San Francisco, California February 7, 2017, ahead of the Court hearing arguments regarding President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Demonstrators protest against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Demonstrators protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the offices of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: Protestors rally in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street during a protest against the Trump administration's proposed travel ban and refugee policies, March 28, 2017 in New York City. The Trump administration's proposed travel ban includes a provision that would bar refugees entry into the United States for 120 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 28: Protestors place photographs of refugees in rafts in front of the Trump Building on Wall Street during a protest against the Trump administration's proposed travel ban and refugee policies, March 28, 2017 in New York City. The Trump administration's proposed travel ban includes a provision that would bar refugees entry into the United States for 120 days. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 16: Demonstrators protest outside the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on March 16, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstrators were protesting the revised travel ban that the administration of President Donald Trump was trying to implement. The ban, which would restrict travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, was supposed to be instituted today but was halted yesterday by a federal judge in Hawaii. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban on six Muslim countries on March 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban on six Muslim countries on March 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Tasos Katopodis (Photo credit should read TASOS KATOPODIS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 3: Protestors write messages directed toward President Donald Trump on lanterns near the Washington Monument, February 3, 2017 in Washington, DC. The protest is aimed at President Trump's travel ban policy. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Thousands of protesters with banners and placards march through central London during a demonstration against U.S. President Donald Trump on February 4, 2017 in London, England. Thousands of protesters march from the U.S. Embassy in London to Downing Street today against President Trump's executive order banning immigration to the USA from seven Muslim countries. (Photo by Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 29: Linda Sarsour attends a rally to protest the executive order that President Donald Trump signed clamping down on refugee admissions and temporarily restricting travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries in New York City on January 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 03: Demonstrators protest against US President Donald Trump's ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries entering the US on February 3, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. The demonstrators are protesting against United States President Donald Trump's travel ban affecting citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Rosalie Gurna, 9, holds a sign in support of Muslim family members as people protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban on Muslim majority countries, at the International terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People protest against President Donald Trump's travel ban in New York City, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Demonstrators participate in a protest by the Yemeni community against U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., February 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Legal experts say the new ban is likely on more solid footing than the previous bans, in part because it was implemented following a detailed review by federal agencies.

Trump's first travel ban aimed at seven Muslim-majority countries, issued soon after he took office in January, was blocked by courts following chaotic scenes at airports.

The second ban, targeting six countries, was blocked by lower courts and partially revived by the Supreme Court in June. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung; editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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