In response to Wednesday’s ruling, a Justice Department spokesman, Ian Prior, referred to his statement the day before: “Today’s ruling is incorrect, fails to properly respect the separation of powers, and has the potential to cause serious negative consequences for our national security.”
The cases have presented the rare spectacle of a president’s own words undercutting the legal arguments of his administration. The government’s position is that the latest ban, like those before it, is not an attempt to prevent Muslims from entering the United States, but a bid to limit and control who enters from some of the world’s most dangerous countries.
Judge Chuang quoted extensively from Mr. Trump’s statements and Twitter messages during the campaign and in office, including his demand as a candidate for “a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” his calls for “a Muslim ban,” and a remark that because his statements had upset some people, he was “talking territory instead of Muslim.”
The Trump administration has insisted that the travel bans were motivated by security concerns, not religious animus, but courts have found otherwise. The most recent version of a ban, the third one issued by the president, differs from the previous ones, but not enough to make the case that the motive behind it has changed, Judge Chuang found.
“To the extent that the government might have provided additional evidence to establish that national security is now the primary purpose for the travel ban, it has not done so,” he wrote.
In January, Mr. Trump signed an executive order barring entry to the United States for 90 days by people from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, whose populations are overwhelmingly Muslim, and said that in admitting people from those countries in the future, his administration would give preference to Christians. The president said the measure targeted countries that are havens for terrorists, and was needed to keep violent extremists out of the United States.
“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” Mr. Trump said.
After courts blocked the order from taking effect, he issued a revised order in March, this time excluding Iraq. But that, too, ran afoul of the courts.
The administration then took what it said was a new approach, basing travel restrictions on a global assessment of how well other countries share information about would-be travelers with the United States; no preference would be given to Christians. The resulting third travel ban was open-ended, rather than lasting 90 days.
Mr. Trump once again named Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia, and added Chad, which is majority Muslim, and North Korea, which has very few Muslims but also very few visitors to the United States. His order barred immigration indefinitely by citizens of those countries, and by certain Venezuelan government officials and their family members. It also limited, by varying degrees, visits by nonimmigrants such as tourists and students from those countries and from Iraq.
Judge Chuang wrote that the plaintiffs were likely to succeed at trial in arguing that the order violated the First Amendment’s prohibition on the government favoring or disfavoring any religion.
Like Judge Watson in Hawaii, he also found it likely that the order violated a 1965 federal law that bars discrimination based on national origin in immigration. Additionally, Judge Watson ruled that the order appeared to overstep the president’s authority under another section of federal immigration law.
2nd Federal Judge Strikes Down Trump’s New Travel Ban – New York Times