Thursday, October 19, 2017

Another Court Enjoins Enforcement of Third Travel Ban

In International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, (D MD, Oct. 17, 2017), a Maryland federal district court became the second court (see prior posting) to bar enforcement of most of the third version of President Trump's travel ban.  As did the Hawaii federal district court the day before, the Maryland federal court held that the Presidential Proclamation violates provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act that prohibit denial of immigrant visas on the basis of nationality.  Disagreeing with the Hawaii federal court, it held that the government had made an adequate fining of "detrimental interest" to justify the ban.

Reaching an issue that the Hawaii court had avoided, the Maryland federal court concluded that, like the prior two bans, the third travel ban also violates the Establishment Clause.  It concluded that the third version of the ban is merely "the inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban." The court said in part:
... [A] simple check on the demographics of the geographic area affected by the Proclamation, with a combined population that is predominantly Muslim, reveals that its impact closely aligns with religious affiliation....  Likewise, the inclusion of two non-majority Muslim nations, North Korea and Venezuela, does not persuasively show a lack of religious purpose behind the Proclamation. The Venezuela ban is qualitatively different from the others because it extends only to government officials, and the ban on North Korea will, according to Department of State statistics, affect fewer than 100 people....
Thus, while Defendants assert that the Proclamation’s travel ban was arrived at through the routine operations of the government bureaucracy, the public was witness to a different genealogy, one in which the President—speaking “straight to the American people,” ... announced his intention to go back to and get even tougher than in EO-1 and EO-2.... 
The reasonable observer using a “head with common sense” would rely on the statements of the President to discern the purpose of a Presidential Proclamation.... Here, those statements do not offer “persuasive” rejection of the President’s prior calls for a Muslim ban, or his stated intention to use a ban on certain “dangerous territory” to effectuate a Muslim ban, ... nor do they show that the stated intention to impose a Muslim ban has been “repealed or otherwise repudiated” 
The court, while issuing a nationwide injunction, limited its injunction to visa applicants who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States, ad defined in prior litigation on the President's travel bans.  It also excluded travelers from Venezuela or North Korea. CNN reports on the decision.