By Alex Bregman
President Trump is vowing to fight the latest legal setback for what he calls the “watered-down version of the first order.” It comes after his first travel ban sparked protests at airports across the country and was ultimately struck down in federal court as well.
As the second executive order continues to sit in legal limbo after a federal judge in Hawaii halted it Wednesday, how is this order different from the original?
For starters, the original announcement was signed in public for all the television cameras to see. The second, on the other hand, was signed behind closed doors with only a photo tweeted out by the White House. It was followed by a press conference with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions explained at the time, “This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause, we can — so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern.”
Then there are the countries it affects. The original order banned travel for 90 days from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria. The new ban took Iraq off the list because the Trump administration says the Iraqi government participated by providing new information for screening. That leaves six of the original countries.
The new order also applies only to those seeking new visas, not travelers already in the country or on their way.
Then there’s the timing. The first ban went into effect immediately, which some blame for the chaos it caused. The new ban was set to go into effect after 10 days, which would have been this Thursday if the court had not put it on hold.
That delay occurred despite Trump’s urgent tweet after the original ban that if there was any delay the “bad” would rush in.
What about the impact on refugees? The old order banned Syrian refugees indefinitely and all others for 120 days. The new order no longer singles out Syrians, rather keeping the 120-day ban in place for all refugees to the U.S.
The legal challenges to the new order remain largely the same. As the Oregon attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, explained after the Hawaii court’s ruling, “I think what we have heard today loud and clear — and it didn’t take the judge very long to rule — is that, when there is intent to discriminate, whether it’s on the four corners of the document or whether you need to look outside to the context in which the document was prepared, an intent is an intent.”
Despite the latest ruling against the president, he insists the order is within his power. He said at a campaign-style rally in Nashville after the ruling, “The law and the Constitution give the president the power to suspend immigration when he deems — or she, or she, fortunately it will not be Hillary ‘she.’”
As the legal battle surrounding the new travel ban continues, and with the president promising to take it all the way to the Supreme Court, at least when it comes to what’s in the new order, you can say, “Now I get it.”