Judge halts new version of Trump travel ban

NEW YORK • President Donald Trump's attempts to block travellers from a handful of countries - most of them predominantly Muslim - from coming to the United States hit another legal snag on Tuesday, when a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order freezing most of Mr Trump's third travel ban the day before it was to take effect.

At least for now, the judge's order will prevent the Trump administration from stopping almost all travel to the US indefinitely from most of the countries named in the ban.

The ban, now in its third iteration, was one of Mr Trump's earliest and most controversial decisions after taking office in January, and it has also been one of the most legally troubled. Both previous versions were ordered halted by federal district judges who said they violated the Constitution or exceeded the President's authority, and those orders were upheld on appeal.

The Supreme Court was due to review the second version of the order when Mr Trump issued the third. Given the litigation surrounding the bans, the Supreme Court seems likely to take an interest in the current version.

Citing his campaign promises to keep terrorists and criminals out of the US, Mr Trump initially ordered an immediate suspension of travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a move that plunged airports across the country into confusion and protest in January. That order was eventually blocked by a federal judge in Seattle.

His second attempt narrowed the scope of the ban, but still struggled to survive judicial scrutiny; it was blocked in March by the same Hawaii judge who issued Tuesday's order.

The third ban, the judge wrote, "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor".

Among those flaws, was that the ban "plainly discriminates based on nationality" in a way that undercut "the founding principles of this Nation", and the government had not shown the US' national interests would be harmed by admitting travellers from the affected countries.

The Trump administration swiftly denounced the judge's order, saying the latest travel curbs were issued after an "extensive worldwide security review" by Homeland Security.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 19, 2017, with the headline 'Judge halts new version of Trump travel ban'. Print Edition | Subscribe