US judge blocks latest Trump travel restrictions


SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK, Oct 17 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Tuesday blocked President Donald Trump's latest bid to impose restrictions on citizens from several countries entering the United States, which had been set to take effect this week.

The open-ended ban, announced last month, targeted people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as certain government officials from Venezuela. It was the latest version of a policy that had previously targeted six Muslim-majority countries but had been restricted by the U.S. Supreme Court.


SEE ALSO: Obama aides slam Trump over claim about past presidents, fallen soldiers

The state of Hawaii sued in federal court in Honolulu to block Trump's latest policy directive, arguing that federal immigration law did not give him the authority to impose the restrictions on six of those countries. Hawaii did not challenge entry restrictions relating to North Korea and Venezuela.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu had previously blocked Trump's last travel ban in March. In his ruling on Tuesday, Watson said Hawaii is likely to succeed in proving that Trump's latest travel ban violates federal immigration law.

The policy "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor: it lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be 'detrimental to the interests of the United States,'" Watson wrote.

More on earlier versions of the ban:

14 PHOTOS
Banned Grandmas Instagram account protests Trump's travel ban
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Banned Grandmas Instagram account protests Trump's travel ban
@hdagres is the curator of @theiranist and her Mamani is newly banned from the US.
@kia4congress's grandma đź’ś
Camilla Razavi with that mamani mach-o-boos #muslimban #nobannowall
Yasmin's grandma is guilty of the wild belief that each meal must be accompanied by sherry and a cigarette
Meet @anpour's late grandmother. She used to come to the US for medical treatments for her hearing. Posting this in memoriam of her and other mamanis who come to the US for medical reasons.
@destinationunknown's grandma's crime? Making amazing kookoo sabzi
Throwback to when Reza's grandma WAS allowed in the US and made it to his graduation.
Amir just finished law school in NY, but his grandma is barred from visiting to celebrate him.
Vahid đź’ś's his mamani
Maman Saideh won't be in NYC for Asal's graduation from Columbia University - via @maya_1957
This is Alison's mamani. Probably guilty of too much mach-o-boos.
@sanamche is an Iranian architecture student in NY. This is her grandma. Clearly this is a ban on torshi, not terrorism.
Check out the plate of shirini beside @shayanmodarres's grandma. The US will be less sweet by barring her entry.
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The White House and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. At a news briefing, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to comment on how it would affect State Department consular operations.

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement: "Today is another victory for the rule of law."

As a candidate, Trump had promised "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

In announcing the newest travel restrictions, the White House had portrayed them as necessary consequences for countries that did not meet new requirements for vetting of immigrants and issuing of visas. Those requirements were shared in July with foreign governments, which had 50 days to make improvements if needed, the White House said.

Read the White House's response to the latest ruling:

 

A number of countries made improvements by enhancing the security of travel documents or the reporting of passports that were lost or stolen. Others did not, sparking the restrictions.

Immigrant advocacy groups cheered the Hawaii ruling.

"We're glad, but not surprised, that President Trump's illegal and unconstitutional Muslim ban has been blocked once again," said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants Rights Project, in a statement.

The ACLU and other groups have filed separate challenges to Trump's policy in a Maryland federal court. A ruling is still pending.

In the Hawaii case, Watson said the ban's national security rationale is undermined by the fact that it is not known how the president settled on the countries designated by the ban.

Watson also said the proclamation likely runs afoul of a prohibition in immigration law on nationality-based discrimination in issuing visas. 

 

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