Last January, newly-minted US President Donald Trump put the extents of his authority to the test by signing Executive Order 13769. It was entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”, and was an encapsulation of his firsts steps toward his campaign promise of halting the entry of Muslims into the US until his administration “figures out what is going on” in terms of involvement in religious extremism and terrorist activity. The EO restricted refugee admission, indefinitely suspended Syrian refugee entry and case-to-case entry suspension of seven other countries with mainly Muslim populations for 120 days. After a brief period of enforcement peppered by indignant protests, the EO was stopped by a temporary restraining order, prompting the President to formulate a new EO 13780 with a few tweaks on the provisions regarding who exactly could be suspended from entry into the US. Trump signed it this March 6.
CNN tells us how that second attempt went down. Only a matter of hours before the executive order went into effect Thursday March 16, a Federal judge from Hawaii issued another restraining order, stifling the EO’s provisions before they could even go into effect. US District Court Judge Derrick Watson filed a 43-page ruling that claimed the EO contained “questionable evidence” in its arguments that the proposed banning of refugees and travel entry was a national security issue.
In response President Trump declared during a Wednesday rally night in Nashville Tennessee that the new TRO on his ban was an “unprecedented judicial overreach”, telling the crowd booing the court order that this second blockage of an executive order that had already been “watered down” as both bad and sad news. He then pledged to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court.
Due to the TRO ruling, travelers and refugees from its stated six Muslim majority countries will still be able to travel to the US without additional restrictions. It should be noted that compared to the original EO, the list of restricted countries was reduced by one – Iraq – as well as safeguarded all green-card holders from the same nations. Had it come into effect, people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen are barred entry from the US for 90 days, and all refugee applicants for 120.
Judge Watson’s decision was also reinforced by citing several instances from past months showing questionable actions from Trump and his senior advisers regarding opposition to the bans. The President had castigated the Seattle Federal judged who blocked the original EO, and was quoted on CNN as opining that “Islam hates us [Americans]”, even remarking that there is no true division between moderate and “radical” Muslims. This has been interpreted in the new ruling as proof of “religious animus” being the driving force of the new EO.