A nationwide order was issued by a federal judge on Wednesday evening that blocks President Trump’s ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries, signifying another setback to the White House’s controversial immigration policy.

This ruling is the second of its kind for the Trump administration over policy that they deem is critical for national security.

  • It would have stopped those from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen entering the United States for at least 90 days.
  • All refugees would be barred from entry for at least 120 days.
  • Refugee admissions limited to 50,000 people in the current fiscal year.
  • The judge’s ruling is not a final ruling on the constitutionality of the order.

The first controversial travel ban caused widespread mayhem and was ultimately blocked by a federal court in Seattle.

The judge, Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu, wrote that a “reasonable, objective observer” would view even the new order as “issued with a purpose to disfavour a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”

The new travel ban issued on March 6 was supposed to satisfy the courts by removing the more contentious components of the original version. Trump lambasted Judge Watson during a campaign-style rally in Nashville shortly after the news broke, accusing the judge of ruling “for political reasons”.

“This ruling makes us look weak, which by the way we no longer are, believe me,” Mr. Trump said, to mounting cheers from a loyal crowd.

Administration lawyers argued in multiple courts on Wednesday that the president was merely exercising his national security powers and that no element of the executive order, as written, could be construed as a religious test for travelers.

However, and most importantly, no element of Trump’s executive order, as written, could be construed as serving national security interests. If anything this executive order, greatly undermines national security by alienating the United States’ Muslim allies who are fighting shoulder to shoulder with American troops, against terrorism in their own countries.

Muslim ban

Trump has long been accused of thinly veiled racism towards the Muslim community, and singling them out in immigration policy. Judge Watson ruled that the State of Hawaii and an individual plaintiff, Ismail Elshikh, the imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii, had reasonable grounds to challenge the order as religious discrimination.

“For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release,” Judge Watson wrote, quoting a Trump campaign document titled “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”

“This is a great day for democracy, religious and human rights,” Mr. Elshikh, who was out of the country, said in a message relayed through Hakim Ouansafi, the chairman of the Muslim Association of Hawaii. “I am very pleased that the processing of my mother-in-law’s paperwork will not stop now but more importantly that this Muslim ban will not separate families and loved ones just because they happen to be from the six countries.”

Refugee organizations and civil rights groups have praised the ruling calling it a strong and unequivocal rejection of the politics of hate. “It’s a preliminary decision, but it recognizes that there continue to be problems with the constitutionality of this revised order, particularly with discriminatory intent toward Muslims,” said Betsy Fisher, policy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center.

Controversy surrounding the rejection

Many believe the ruling to be illegitimate. The law is quite clear that the President has virtually unlimited power under law to take this action. The notion that foreign policy decisions that are delegated to the executive can be litigated by those who disagree with the policy preferences of the elected president, some argue, is a dangerous path on which to go down.

Whether the U.S. can have its foreign policy determined by an unelected judiciary is hotly debated. There are already many cases of unelected judges nakedly substituting their own policy preferences for those of the president who is authorized by statute to make these decisions under the pretext of resolving litigation initiated by opponents of the president.

However, an immense number of individuals have already been affected by the administration’s past failed attempt of an immigration travel ban and future Federal court rulings blocking this new one are virtually guaranteed.

The U.S., a nation built on immigration, has forsaken the very principles it had always stood for: Liberty and Justice for all.

Read the full ruling here