A federal judge in Hawaii has ordered a halt to President Donald Trump’s latest set of travel restrictions a day before they were set to take effect.

Key points:

  • U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson enjoined the federal government from enforcing the travel restrictions, saying the latest executive order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor” by failing to provide sufficient findings on how the U.S. would be harmed if the restrictions do not take effect. The primary basis for the ruling, however, was the court’s determination that the travel ban was outside the scope of the authority provided by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Watson said the order “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in violation of federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of nationality in the issuance of immigrant visas.
  • The executive order was set to take effect Wednesday and would have placed new restrictions on certain foreign nationals from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The judge’s order will not affect the restrictions on Venezuela (which only apply to specific government officials and their families) or North Korea.
  • The White House called the ruling “dangerously flawed,” and said the Justice Department would “vigorously defend the President’s lawful action.”

BAL Analysis: The ruling means that, for the time being, foreign nationals can travel to the United States as they could before the Sept. 24 travel restrictions were announced. While the Supreme Court limited scope of the court ruling on the earlier travel ban to persons with close ties to the United States, the new district court ruling applies to all applicants. An appellate court could reverse Judge Watson’s ruling or limit the scope to persons with close ties to the United States and the restrictions still may take effect in the coming days or weeks. The new restrictions would not dramatically expand the number of employees subject to travel restrictions for most companies. BAL prepared an FAQ on the restrictions when they were released in September. The full analysis is available here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

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