A federal judge in Maryland has blocked parts of President Trump’s most recent attempt to impose broad limits on who can enter the U.S., granting a motion for a preliminary injunction that was filed by plaintiffs led by the International Refugee Assistance Project.
The plaintiffs “have established that they are likely to succeed on the merits,” District Judge Theodore Chuang wrote in the Tuesday order in dealing another setback to the Trump administration’s attempt to ban travel to the U.S. by citizens of certain countries.
Chuang said the plaintiffs “are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief, and that the balance of the equities and the public interest favor an injunction.”
The judge’s order was filed one day before Trump’s ban was set to take effect. It follows a similar order Tuesday from a federal judge in Hawaii in a related case.
In both Maryland and Hawaii, the courts blocked the ban from affecting the Muslim-majority countries on the list, while allowing it to take effect regarding Venezuela and North Korea. The Maryland injunction would allow the ban to cover people who lack “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States” — echoing the language used by the Supreme Court when it partially restored part of an earlier travel ban in June.
The two cases had been on the Supreme Court’s calendar for the current term, but the court removed them “pending further order” in September after Trump issued a revised and expanded ban.
In his memorandum opinion, Chuang noted that then-candidate Trump posted a document called “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration” on his website in December 2015. He also traced other references by Trump, including repeated calls for keeping Muslims out of the U.S. and, once in office, an embrace of the presidential order as a “travel ban.”
The American Civil Liberties Union has been arguing the case on behalf of the IRAP. Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said Wednesday, “Like the two versions before it, President Trump’s latest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core. And like the two before it, this one is going down to defeat in the courts. Religious discrimination with window dressing is still unconstitutional.”
Trump’s latest attempt at a travel ban came in late September, when he issued Presidential Proclamation 9645, titled Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats.”
The president’s ban primarily targeted people from Muslim-majority countries — Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. In an apparent attempt to avoid the “Muslim ban” label that was applied to previous restrictions, the proclamation also included citizens of North Korea and some officials of Venezuela’s government.
The injunction targets Section 2 — the portion of the proclamation that lists the nations whose citizens would be barred from entry to the U.S.
In his order issued early Wednesday, Chuang wrote, “This Preliminary Injunction is granted on a nationwide basis and prohibits the enforcement of Section 2 of Presidential Proclamation 9645 in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas, with the above exceptions, pending further orders from this Court.”