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Asian American Federal Judges Halt Trump’s Latest Muslim Travel Ban

Theodore Chuang
Judge Theodore Chuang
Views from the Edge contributed to this report


An Asian American federal judge in Maryland early today became the second in less than 24 hours to halt the latest version of President Trump’s travel ban.

The Washington Post reports Judge Theodore D. Chuang blocked the White House from enforcing the ban on anyone with a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States, such as a family member or professional relationship.

“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,” said Omar Jadwat of the ACLU’s Immigration Rights Project.

Late Tuesday (Oct. 17), mere hours before it was set to take effect, another Asian American federal judge in Hawaii blocked most of President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban Tuesday.

The temporary restraining order by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson will most certainly place the Hawaiian judge and Hawaii’s Attorney General Doug Chin in Donald Trump’s Twitter crosshairs.

Judge Derrick Watson
Judge Derrick Watson

“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”In his 40-page decision, the Hawaii-born Watson wrote that the newest attempt to impose travel restrictions “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.”

The third Trump-inspired travel ban announced in September and set to go into effect early Wednesday, would have restricted travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with some Venezuelan government officials and their families.

“The American Muslim community is heartened by the district court’s decision to block the Trump Administration’s racist and xenophobic agenda,” said Zahra Biloo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). “It is our hope that Muslim Ban 3.0 will be the last iteration of an unconstitutional policy that hurts communities across our country. We will continue to fight until this ban, and all anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies are repealed.”

The latest version of the travel ban “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to … the founding principles of this nation,” Watson ruled. His decision would not affect any restrictions for Venezuela and North Korea.

“It exceeds the limits on the President’s exclusion authority that have been recognized for nearly a century, by supplanting Congress’s immigration policies with the President’s own unilateral and indefinite ban,” the challengers in Hawaii wrote of the new ban. “And it continues to effectuate the President’s unrepudiated promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.”

Watson wrote that the order did “not reveal why existing law is insufficient to address the President’s described concerns” and that it was internally flawed – for example, by exempting Iraq from the banned list even though Iraq failed the U.S. government’s security assessment.

Watson’s order is a temporary stop on the ban, while a lawsuit over the ins and outs of the legality of the ban will argued in coming months.

Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Maryland are also challenging the order in front of the same federal judge in Seattle who struck down Trump’s initial ban in January.


That ban — aimed mostly at Muslim-majority countries — led to chaos, confusion and demonstrations at airports throughout the country and triggered several lawsuits, including one from Hawaii.

That led to the Trump administration revising the ban, which Hawaii challenged, and Watson agreed it discriminated on the basis of nationality and religion. A subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowed the administration to partially reinstate restrictions against Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and against all refugees.

Hawaii then successfully challenged the government’s definition of which relatives of people already living in the U.S. would be allowed into the country, and Watson ordered the list expanded.

“We hope that both the courts and Americans in general remember other moments in recent history where the government has systematically discriminated against specific groups of people, such as the internment of Japanese Americans and the Chinese Exclusion Act,” said Aarti Kohli,of Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

This is the second time Watson and Chuang have both issued orders staying the travel ban. The two also stayed President Trump’s first travel ban.
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