Trump's Travel Ban Blocked

Federal judge's ruling to grant injunction cites impact on University of Hawaii.

March 16, 2017
 
Judge Derrick K. Watson

A federal judge in Hawaii issued an injunction late Wednesday blocking the Trump administration from temporarily barring nationals of six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- from entering the U.S.

The injunction is against President Trump's revised travel ban, which he issued this month after federal courts blocked his first ban. While many in higher education said the second ban was in some ways better than the first, they still objected to its automatic refusal to allow some people to come to the United States to study or teach because of their country of origin.

The judge's order is likely to be appealed by the Trump administration. As with the first round of litigation, higher education is playing a prominent role in the legal arguments.

The state of Hawaii, in challenging the second ban, specifically cited the impact it would have on the University of Hawaii. Judge Derrick K. Watson based part of his decision -- on the crucial issue of the state's standing -- on the arguments involving the university.

"The university is an arm of the state. The university recruits students, permanent faculty and visiting faculty from the targeted countries. Students or faculty suspended from entry are deterred from studying or teaching at the university, now and in the future, irrevocably damaging their personal and professional lives and harming the educational institutions themselves," the judge's ruling says.

"There is also evidence of a financial impact from the executive order on the university system. The university recruits from the six affected countries. It currently has 23 graduate students, several permanent faculty members and 29 visiting faculty members from the six countries listed. The state contends that any prospective recruits who are without visas as of March 16, 2017, will not be able to travel to Hawaii to attend the university. As a result, the university will not be able to collect the tuition that those students would have paid," the ruling adds.

The judge also noted with approval the state's argument that "the university will also suffer nonmonetary losses, including damage to the collaborative exchange of ideas among people of different religions and national backgrounds on which the state’s educational institutions depend. This will impair the university’s ability to recruit and accept the most qualified students and faculty, undermine its commitment to being 'one of the most diverse institutions of higher education' in the world."

Further, the judge's ruling says, the travel ban would "grind to a halt certain academic programs, including the university’s Persian language and culture program."

The kinds of impacts faced by the University of Hawaii, the decision says, are similar to those cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit when in February it upheld an injunction against Trump's first travel ban. That case was brought by Washington state and cited the impact on the University of Washington and Washington State University. And the ruling says that the concerns raised by the state of Hawaii over its public university system would be addressed by an injunction.

The injunction ordered by the judge is national and started late Wednesday, hours before the new Trump travel ban was due to take effect.

'Unprecedented Judicial Overreach'

In a rally in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday night Trump blasted the judge’s ruling as “unprecedented judicial overreach” and said he would appeal it “all the way up to the Supreme Court” if necessary.

Trump has justified the travel ban as necessary to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. -- though a draft Department of Homeland Security memo, reported on by the Associated Press, found that citizenship status is an “unlikely indicator” of terror threats and that few people from the countries singled out for the ban have been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S.

“The best way to keep foreign terrorists -- or as some people would say, in certain instances, radical Islamic terrorists -- from attacking our country is to stop them from entering our country in the first place,” Trump said at the rally.

Elizabeth Redden contributed to this article.

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