As the Donald Trump-led administration was getting ready to carry out the revised travel ban on Thursday, a US federal judge in Hawaii issued an emergency halt to the order’s implementation inviting strong criticism by the US President. Trump accused the judiciary of interfering with the government and said US District Judge Derrick Watson’s legal block “makes us look weak” and represented “unprecedented judicial overreach.” Watson, who had been appointed by former president Barack Obama, noted that while the order did not mention Islam by name, his ruling read that “a reasonable, objective observer … would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”
So what’s new about the revised travel ban?
— While the old order banned travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the revised order excludes Iraq from the list.
— The January 27 executive order had affected visa and green card holders. The revised order, however, applies to new visa applicants and therefore will not affect those who have valid visas or are US green cards-holders.
— The first order had banned all refugees from entering US for 120 days. The revised order however makes room for those “in transit” allowing the already approved refugees to enter US.
— While the earlier order had placed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees, the new order treats them at par with the citizens of the other five countries.
— The new executive order has also allows entry of travellers who wish to visit their relatives who are US citizens. It also allows entry to those who have been to US earlier for work or school. Apart from this, the order also allows infants, children and people in need of medical care.
— Trump administration had faced excessive criticism for allowing special treatment of Christian refugees in the old order. The revised order removes language that would give priority to religious minorities.
Here’s a timeline on Donald Trump’s travel ban:
January 27: An executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” was signed by Trump. Apart from calling for an indefinite ban of Syrian refugees entering US, the order also suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days in the country. The “travel ban order” also blocked citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering US for 90 days. The seven nations included in the order are Muslim-majority countries.
January 28: Widespread protests took place across the country demanding suspension of the order. The American Civil Liberties Union managed to get an emergency stay on the ban in a New York federal court. Trump said that the ban was working out “very nicely” and that it was not “a Muslim ban.”
January 29: Though the White House had initially said that the green card holders would be subjected to additional screening, the Department of Homeland Security later released a statement saying they would be allowed to enter the country.
January 30: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates is fired by Trump administration for “betraying the Justice Department by refusing to defend the travel ban.” Yates had written in a letter: “At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful. Consequently, for as long as I am the Acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.” The White House later issued a statement on her termination adding “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”
January 31: Noting the criticism pouring in for the “travel ban”, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the order is not a ban. “I think the president has talked about extreme vetting and the need to keep America safe for a very, very long time. At the same time, he’s also made very clear that this is not a Muslim ban. It’s not a travel ban. It’s a vetting system to keep America safe,” he said.
Febuary 3: A US federal Judge, James Robart, rules in favor of Washington and Minnesota, putting a national halt on the executive order. “The executive order adversely affects the states’ residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel,” Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, conluded. “These harms are significant and ongoing.”
In response to a suit filed by the ACLU of Massachusetts, US District Judge Nathaniel M Gorton rules in favor of the ban.
February 10: Trump hints at a new executive order while addressing a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country. You’ll be seeing that sometime next week. In addition, we will continue to go through the court process, and ultimately I have no doubt that we’ll win that particular case,”he said. The reaction came in the wake of The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which upheld Robart’s stay. The three judges took the decision on the grounds that the US government had not offered any evidence on national security concerns justifying the ban and the states had also shown that even temporary reinstatement of the ban would cause harm.
February 16: Trump to institute a new immigration order. The decision showed a shift in the government’s earlier stance from attempting to take the original immigration ban case to the Supreme Court. The Justice Department lawyers said this was done to “clear the way for immediately protecting the country rather than pursuing further, potentially time-consuming litigation.”
February 21: White House policy adviser Stephen Miller gives details on the revised immigration order. Says it will be “fundamentally” the same as the original order. “One of the big differences that you are going to see in the executive order is that it is going to be responsive to the judicial ruling which didn’t exist previously,” said Miller.
March 6: Trump signs the revised immigration order which is slated to go into effect March 16. The new order excludes Iraq from the list of countries banned from entering US.
March 16: A US federal judge in Hawaii issues an emergency halt to the order’s implementation.