“Federal Judge Blocks Travel Ban” flashed across the Internet Friday night and – as The Associated Press reports – leaves the Trump administration having to deal with the implications for their current immigration and refugee policy. The Attorney General in the state of Washington was the principal force behind this seemingly successful challenge, which throws what many have preferred to call a “Muslim ban” into question.
Customs and Border Patrol just wrapped a 9p ET call with the airlines, "back to business as usual" as Federal judge in WA blocks travel ban.— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) February 4, 2017
As reported by The Associated Press, it’s only been a week now since protests erupted at airports across the United States over the travel ban that the Trump administration put in place as blocks for individuals coming in from certain predominantly Muslim countries. Trump’s executive order blocks travel to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.
Tens of thousands of visas were revoked under this order, with thousands of people being refused entry into the country at United States airports. Trump’s executive order blocks not only visitors traveling to the United States from these countries, but also initially blocked those entering the country with green cards as well.
The confusion that reigned following the presidential order is likely a result of the fact that the order itself seems to have been issued with very little deliberation or consultation with the relevant agencies in the government that would actually have to implement such an unprecedented policy.
There were many reports of officials at airports like JFK in New York having no idea just what the new rules from the Trump administration actually meant or how they were supposed to implement them in the real world. And now that a Washington federal judge blocks the travel ban itself, these Customs and Border officers will have to deal with a whole new set of questions about how to proceed.
Reason Federal Judge Blocks Travel Ban
Despite the insistence by the Trump administration that this travel ban from the seven listed countries was not a ban on Muslims specifically or even a travel ban at all, there is a fair amount of evidence suggesting that – in effect – it is. In fact, the principle reason for the firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was that she believed the executive order was not legal and refused to enforce it.
And statements by Donald Trump himself in which he implied that Christian refugees would get priority treatment over Muslims in processing their entry into the United States would seem to violate the fundamental constitutional principle that the government will not endorse one religion over another.
What the Federal Judge Blocks
Travel ban cessation as ordered by the federal court in Washington State does not – in itself – entirely resolve the matter. The judge in the case made it clear that this order only temporarily blocks the travel ban so that the constitutionality of the presidential order could be examined more closely.
However, at this point the order by the federal judge blocks travel ban enforcement nationwide by any branch of the federal government. How quickly and effectively the various border officials and TSA airport employees will respond to the judge’s order is still to be seen.
Breaking: Federal judge in Seattle blocks Trump extreme vetting order - Trump Admin to appeal immediately #Dobbs— Lou Dobbs (@LouDobbs) February 4, 2017
And as reported by CNN, the Trump administration will likely seek a stay of this judge’s order so that federal authorities can – in the meantime – continue blocking immigration from the seven countries specified in Donald Trump’s executive order.
So although “federal judge blocks travel ban” is being tweeted excitedly on laptops and smart phones around the United States, there is no guarantee that the blocks put in place by this judge will be sustained by a higher court during an appeal or that the executive order itself will be deemed unconstitutional. Also – given that we are currently one judge short in the Supreme Court – it’s difficult to say what will happen if the ruling by this Washington state federal judge blocking the travel ban reaches the highest court.
[Featured Image by Zach Gibson/Getty Images]