Two Federal Judges Block President Trump’s Newest Travel Ban

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, seated in Honolulu, Hawaii, issued a nationwide injunction against the third and latest version of President Trump’s travel ban. This was followed up on Wednesday morning by U.S. District Court Judge Theodore Chuang, who also enjoined the ban.  The latest travel ban was issued on September 24 and set to take effect today, October 18.

The ban, as described in a previous blog post, barred entry into the United States for a large percentage of nationals of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, and North Korea, and would restrict travel of certain government officials and their families from Venezuela.  Judge Watson’s decision and injunction block the Trump Administration’s ability to enforce the new ban, except that it remains in effect for nationals from North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela.  Judge Watson did not make a determination on the constitutionality of the ban.  His decision focused solely on whether President Trump had the authority to issue such a ban, and if a person’s nationality can be used to assess whether a foreign national poses a national security risk.

Judge Chuang’s injunction in Maryland did not go quite as far as that of Judge Watson.  While enjoining most of the travel restrictions against Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, and Chad, it did permit the White House to move forward with restricting travel for those foreign nationals who are “lacking a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”  Nevertheless, Judge Chuang issued a scathing rebuke of the travel ban, calling it fundamentally the same as the previous bans, which were both blocked by the courts earlier this year.  Judge Chuang wrote that the “reasonable observer using a ‘head with common sense’ would rely on the statements of the President to discern the purpose of a Presidential Proclamation,” and that those statements “cast” the travel ban “as the inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.”

The Justice Department is expected to appeal the decision and follow the same route as it did with the previous travel bans, which may result in an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The NMM Immigration Blog will continue to cover this story as it develops.  If you have questions about this post or other immigration topics, please contact me at

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