President Donald Trump lost the first round of a bitter fight to impose a targeted travel ban. Now comes round two.
After federal courts blocked the president's initial order barring people from seven mostly Muslim nations from entering the United States, the administration will now confront fresh legal challenges over a second, somewhat less-restrictive ban, legal experts said.
The overarching question is whether the revised order can withstand some of the same legal challenges that doomed the first, including whether it unlawfully discriminates based on religion. Those questions may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, the experts said.
Trump replaced his Jan. 27 order by dropping Iraq from the list of predominantly Muslim countries whose citizens are barred from entering the U.S. for 90 days. While the revised order halts admissions of refugees for 120 days, it no longer bans Syrian refugees indefinitely, nor does it favor Christians. Permanent legal residents, also known as green-card holders, and travelers with a valid visa are exempt from the new order.
In issuing the revised order, the administration provided significantly more detail, including a question-and-answer document that provides a rationale for the travel ban and guidance for travelers who might be impacted.
But even with the overhaul, advocates for immigrants said Trump's latest attempt to control entry to the country remains a disguised ban on Muslims, despite his statements that he only wants to keep the U.S. safe by vetting people from nations with a history of terrorism.
"The core problem will still remain, which is the travel ban is based on religious discrimination," said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which spearheaded lawsuits around the U.S. and won temporary reprieves from the original order. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who sued over the original travel ban, issued a statement Monday saying he is ready to challenge the new order too because "the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear."
The attorney general of Washington state, whose case against the initial travel ban brought it to a halt, said Monday that his office is considering its "next legal steps."
"By rescinding his earlier executive order, President Trump makes one thing perfectly clear: His original travel ban was indefensible — legally, constitutionally and morally," Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.