Pres. Donald Trump’s new immigration ban blocks all entry of foreign nationals from Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. For refugees, there will be no entry to the US for 120 days. However, unlike the original executive order issued last January, people with valid visas or green cards are now exempted from the immigration ban.
Despite these changes, immigration advocates and several US states say that the revised ban still suffers from flaws in a legal sense. They have asked several federal judges to issue TROs to block the ban as soon as possible.
Courts in Hawaii and Maryland agreed to consider oral arguments on Wednesday from both sides. They will also issue decisions on the same day. The senior policy adviser to the President claimed that the revised immigration ban only has minor technical differences with the original version. However, the position of the Justice Department is clear: Trump’s new travel ban is ‘substantially different.’
The DOJ argued that immigration challengers don’t have a single legal claim to Trump’s new order because visa holders are already excluded and protected from the revised order. It claimed in legal filings that only foreigners who have no right of entry to the country are banned. The updated executive order also contains robust waiver provisions, which means entry can be granted but only on a ‘case-by-case basis.’ A grant will only be given to those who don’t pose a national security risk in any event.
Yet, several states urged the judges to look at how the updated version still contains a ban of 120 days for refugees and 90 days for foreign nationals of Muslim-majority countries, which were aspects that were suspended by several federal courts.
According to a professor at Cornell Law School, Stephen Yale-Loehr, the revised immigration ban is just old wine placed in a different bottle.
“It assumes that refugees and travellers from Muslim-majority countries are security risks,” he added.
In other words, the fate of travelers and refugees will be in the hands of federal judges. Challengers of the immigration ban know that it discriminates religion even though this has been rejected by the White House.
Last time around, a federal judge from Virginia kept tabs of the current President’s campaign trail statements that called for a total shutdown of all Muslims entering the country. The same judge came to a conclusion that the state produced unrebutted evidence that Trump’s travel ban was not being motivated by what the administration claims as a rational national security concern, but a religious prejudice that is against Muslims.
The Justice Department strongly disagrees such reading of Trump’s new executive order. DOJ attorneys argued last Monday that the purpose and text of the immigration ban are religion-neutral and preference for the victims of religious oppression is no longer granted of any sort.
Several states claim that the executive order has negative effects on foreign students especially those that are from public universities. Furthermore, it already had a negative impact on tourism. The DOJ says that both arguments are ‘mere speculation.’