Judge Temporarily Halts New Version of Trump’s Travel Ban


Judge Derrick K. Watson in Honolulu in 2015.

George F. Lee/The Star-Advertiser, via Associated Press

Hours before it was to take effect, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order on Tuesday blocking, for now, President Trump’s third attempt at a travel ban. It would have indefinitely stopped almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the Muslim-majority nations included in his original travel ban.

Tuesday’s ruling was yet another legal setback for one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and most controversial efforts. The judge, Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu, had previously blocked Mr. Trump’s second travel ban from taking effect in March. The White House’s first executive order sharply limiting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries was blocked by a federal judge in Seattle.

The third executive order went further than the original, imposing permanent restrictions on travel instead of the original 90-day suspension. Under the newest version, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea were to be excluded from entering the United States, while citizens of Iraq and some groups of people in Venezuela who tried to visit the United States would have faced extra barriers to entry. It was scheduled to go into effect on Wednesday.

“Professional athletes mirror the federal government in this respect: they operate within a set of rules, and when one among them forsakes those rules in favor of his own, problems ensue,” Judge Watson wrote in his order on Tuesday. The third travel ban, Judge Watson wrote, “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.”

The White House issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon that criticized Judge Watson’s ruling, saying that it “undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe.” The statement defended the rationale for singling out certain countries, saying it was based on concerns about terrorism and national security threats as well as the countries’ “inability or unwillingness to share critical information” about their citizens.

The White House expressed confidence that higher courts would reverse Judge Watson’s ruling.

Judge Watson’s earlier ruling blocking the second version of the travel ban was upheld by an appeals court, but the Supreme Court allowed portions of that version to take effect.

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