United States: Ninth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Injunction Against Travel Ban and Refugee Program Limitations
Ninth Circuit Affirms District Court’s Injunction Against Travel Ban and Refugee Program Limitations
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed an earlier District Court order suspending enforcement of President Trump’s revised Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The revised order was to take effect on March 16, 2017 and was to reinstate a 90-day ban on travel of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order directed heads of the executive agencies to review processes in order to determine additional procedures that should be required for individuals seeking admission as refugees. Furthermore, the Order reduced the cap on the admission of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year. The Ninth Circuit ruling continues to make the Executive Order unenforceable. It is anticipated that the United States Department of Justice will appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court.
On January 27, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order suspending the entry of nationals of seven countries, with limited exceptions, into the United States as immigrants and nonimmigrants for 90 days. The initial travel restriction remained in effect until February 3, 2017, when the Federal District Court in Washington issued a temporary restraining order preventing the enforcement of the travel restriction. Despite a request for a stay of the temporary restraining order, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously denied such a request, thereby making the travel restrictions unenforceable. On February 16, 2017, the Trump Administration stated that the Executive Order would be replaced with a new one.
On March 6, 2017, a new Executive Order was signed, which revoked and replaced the previous Order, and which was to become effective on March 16, 2017. The revised Order contained several changes that were supposed to address the deficiencies of the prior Order. Despite these changes, on March 15, 2017, Federal District Courts in Hawaii and Maryland granted temporary restraining orders with nationwide effect, preventing enforcement of the travel restriction.
On March 30, 2017 the Government filed a notice of appeal for the Federal District Court of Hawaii’s ruling with The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, requesting that the court vacate the preliminary injunction. Today the Ninth Circuit issued its ruling and upheld the District Court ruling. The judges largely affirmed the District Court’s decision which found the core provisions of the revised executive order—namely the 90 day ban on travel for citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen including all refugees—violated the Constitution because the Order’s primary purpose was to discriminate on religious grounds. The court also held that the Executive Order failed to provide a sufficient rationale as to why entry of foreign nationals from the designated countries would be detrimental to the United States’ interests. For these reasons, the Ninth Circuit ruled to affirm in large part the District Court’s order suspending enforcement of President Trump’s revised Executive Order.
The Ninth Circuit’s ruling today continues to suspend the enforcement of the Executive Order and consequently the enforcement of a “travel ban”. Despite the rulings, nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who are physically present in the US are advised to either extremely limit their international travel or not travel out of the country at all. Those concerned that they are only eligible for entry as a result of the temporary restraining orders should seek counsel regarding entering the US as soon as possible. Additionally, affected nationals should closely monitor the situation over the coming months, especially since it is widely anticipated the Ninth Circuit ruling will be appealed and ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court.
PwC Law continues to monitor these developments and will be sure to provide updates as changes occur.
For further details regarding the travel restriction, or any other immigration matters, please contact a member of our team.