The block on President Donald Trump’s infamous executive order enacting a travel or immigration ban on six predominantly Muslim countries has been upheld by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. All judges from the Fourth gathered and voted 10-3 in an en banc ruling, making it the first appeals court to rule on the ban.
Previous efforts had been made by the Trump administration to block immigrants from majority-Muslim countries including Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Libya, spurring widespread protests at both foreign and local airports.
Compelled by the legal urgency of the time, the judicial branch stepped in and blocked the executive order and its succeeding permutation with a federal judge putting the travel ban on hold and the Ninth Circuit refusing to reinstate the order.
Speaking for the majority of 10 justices who voted for the block, Roger Gregory, Chief U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit, said that, “Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across this nation.”
The Trump administration insists the executive order is neither a travel ban nor motivated by religion despite the predominantly Muslim populations of the countries affected by the order and the anti-Muslim rhetoric throughout Trump’s campaign. Government officials maintain the order is intended for countries prone to harboring terrorists, therefore posing national security risks to the U.S.
The White House is urging lower courts to refrain from looking beyond the presented order, which makes no mention of it being grounded on religion.
ADDENDUM: Trump has since gone to assert that the executive order is intended as a travel ban aimed at Muslims, condemning the Justice Department for refusing to acknowledge it as such and for toning down its content for “political correctness.”
According to Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program, the Fourth Circuit ruling represents an “overwhelming consensus” among the justices of the judicial branch, showing that the Trump travel ban is not only “cruel and unnecessary,” it is also unconstitutional.
Goitein adds the branch’s unfazed rejection of the administration’s persistent efforts should signal the president to finally rescind the ban in the hope that “we can move past this truly shameful chapter in this administration’s short history.”
Many expect the White House to appeal the ruling in the High Court.
If you, or a loved one, are coming from any of the affected countries and want to know your rights, contact the offices of the Lyttle Law Firm to schedule a consultation with Austin immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.