President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban executive order suffered its first legal setback Friday as a federal judge blocked the directive’s potential impact on the family of a Syrian refugee living in Wisconsin.
Madison-based U.S. District Court Judge William Conley issued a temporary retraining order at the request of the Syrian man, who is referred to as “John Doe” in court filings. The judge, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, said Trump’s new executive order cannot be used to delay the man’s effort to bring his wife and 3-year-old daughter from the wartorn country to the U.S., but is limited to the individuals involved in the case.
“The court concludes that plaintiff has presented some likelihood of success on the merits and that he is at great risk of suffering irreparable harm if a temporary restraining order is denied,” Conley wrote. “The court appreciates that there may be important differences between the original executive order, and the revised executive order. … As the order applies to the plaintiff here, however, the court finds his claims have at least some chance of prevailing for the reasons articulated by other courts.”
“Moreover, given the daily threat to the lives to plaintiff’s wife and child remaining in Aleppo, Syria, the court further finds a significant risk of irreparable harm,” Conley wrote, blocking application of Trump’s order to the affected family through March 21.
“We’re obviously pleased with this order,” said Vincent Levy, a New York-based attorney representing the Syrian man. “Our client’s wife and child are in danger and it will take some time to get them here, so this is obviously helpful. … It’s another indication that [Trump’s] order, even as revised, exceeds the scope of authority granted to the president and that it’s unconstitutional.”
Justice Department spokespeople did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the ruling.
The court showdown in Wisconsin was just one of at least five expected to play out in the coming days as various states, organizations and individuals try to block some or all of Trump’s redrafted travel ban order from taking effect as scheduled just after midnight Wednesday night.
In Maryland, a federal judge set a hearing for Wednesday morning on a lawsuit brought by refugee aid groups.
Another hearing is set to take place in front of a federal judge in Honolulu on a travel ban lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii.
In addition, the states of Washington and Minnesota are asking a judge in Seattle to confirm that an existing injunction against key parts of Trump’s original travel ban executive order blocks similar portions of his revised directive. No hearing has been set on that dispute, but one is expected next week before Trump’s new order kicks in.
Lawyers involved in the Maryland case, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the International Refugee Assistance Project and HIAS, say it’s possible the hearing in their case could be postponed or canceled if Seattle-based U.S. District Court Judge James Robart decides his existing injunction applies to Trump’s new order.
In the days after Trump’s Jan. 27 directive banning travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven-majority Muslim countries, about two dozen lawsuits were filed challenging its legality. At least five judges issued orders blocking parts of Trump’s original order.
Several of the states involved in those cases now appear to be lining up behind the Washington state-led suit, which obtained the most sweeping injunction against Trump’s original travel ban directive. Oregon joined that case Thursday, while New York and Massachusetts officials have indicated plans to do so soon.
Lawyers representing immigrants and immigrant advocacy groups in Washington state also filed Friday afternoon for a restraining order against Trump’s revised order. That request was submitted to Robart, the same Seattle-based judge who’s handling the case involving Washington and the other state governments.
Trump has billed the travel ban orders as necessary to prevent terrorist attacks in the U.S., but critics say they’re poorly tailored to achieve that goal and will result in an anti-American backlash abroad.
The revised executive order Trump signed Monday trims Iraq off the list of affected countries and exempts existing visa-holders from the new restrictions.
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