On Thursday, May 25, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in an en banc decision, affirmed a nationwide preliminary injunction on President Trump’s revised travel ban that was issued March 16, 2017, by a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland. President Trump’s new executive order (EO), “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” which would have gone into effect March 16, 2017, temporarily bans U.S. entry for nationals from six Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
In a 10-3 ruling, the Fourth Circuit upheld the lower court’s preliminary injunction barring the administration from suspending visa issuance and preventing entry for nationals from the six countries. The Appellate Court opined that the revised EO served more to effectuate the president’s agenda of religious discrimination against Muslims rather than its stated purpose to protect national security and prevent possible terrorist attacks. The opinion also stated that a “reasonable observer” could find that the primary goal of the revised EO “appears to be religious, rather than secular.” Furthermore, the Fourth Circuit held that while the president does have “broad power to deny entry” to immigrants, such power is not absolute.
On May 15, the Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments on the travel ban in a similar appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. Its ruling is expected within the next several weeks. However, as long as the Fourth Circuit’s nationwide injunction remains in effect, President Trump’s revised travel ban for nationals of the six countries will remain blocked regardless of the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
Greenberg Traurig will continue to monitor developments and provide updates in connection with President Trump’s revised EO.