Second Federal Judge Blocks Latest Travel Ban

10/18/2017

U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang of Maryland has granted a preliminary injunction against President Trump's travel restrictions for Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The injunction does not apply, however, to immigrants who lack a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. The injunction will remain in place unless Judge Chuang lifts it, decides on the case, or is overruled by an appeals court. Judge Chuang is the second federal judge to block the latest travel ban after U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order against the ban yesterday.

The motion for a preliminary injunction was filed by plaintiffs led by the International Refugee Assistance Project. In his 91-page opinion, Judge Chuang echoed Judge Watson's concern that the ban violated sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act pertaining to discrimination based on nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas. He also went one step further, emphasizing the importance of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution, saying that "to avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental constitutional principle at the core of our Nation's identity serves a significant public interest." Specifically, Judge Chuang concluded that the Trump Administration's stated methodology for selecting countries to ban "did not simply rely on the results of an objective information-sharing review but instead made certain subjective determinations that resulted in a disproportionate impact on majority-Muslim nations." Therefore, concluding that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their case and would suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, Judge Chuang granted the preliminary injunction.

Under both Judge Chuang's preliminary injunction and Judge Watson's temporary restraining order, North Korea and Venezuela are still subject to travel limits. Judge Watson's temporary restraining order is slightly wider in scope in that it prevents the U.S. government from enforcing the ban on those who lack a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S. That order, however, will only remain in force for two weeks, at which point Judge Watson must decide whether to renew it, convert it into an injunction, or let it expire.

Goel & Anderson will continue to monitor developments and provide updates. If you have any questions, please contact your Goel & Anderson attorney.

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UPDATE (10/23/2017): Judge Watson has converted his temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction.

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