Trump Travel Ban

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Hawaii played a pivotal role in the legal fight over President Donald Trump’s travel bans, the first of which came as an executive order on Jan. 27, 2017 — seven days after he was sworn into office — and which halted immigration from seven majority-Muslim nations. Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin filed a federal lawsuit to block the order a week after it was signed, and was among numerous attorneys general to oppose the immigration ban. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals eventually blocked the order, but the U.S. Supreme Court later allowed part of a second, revised travel ban to temporarily go into effect.

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Trump Campaigns On ‘Preventing Muslim Immigration’

During his successful campaign for president, Donald Trump, a Republican businessman and reality TV star from New York, called for a broad ban on Muslims entering the U.S. from other nations. He put out a press release early in his campaign, on Dec. 7, 2015, titled “Donald J. Trump Statement On Preventing Muslim Immigration.” The press release read, in part: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” The language from the press release was later used in lawsuits, including those filed by Hawaii, against a narrower travel ban Trump signed after taking office.

First Trump Travel Ban

President Donald Trump’s first travel ban was an executive order, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, signed on Jan. 27, 2017. The order, which was narrower in scope than his campaign promise, blocked citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The nations that fell under the ban were Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The executive order also blocked refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely barred refugees from Syria.

The order was written with input from just a small circle of White House advisors without any guidance from the Department of Homeland Security. Its implementation plunged the U.S. immigration system in chaos and set off widespread protests, including in Honolulu. Three days after the order was signed, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates wrote a letter to Justice Department lawyers saying she was not sure the travel ban was lawful. President Trump fired Yates later that day.

Hawaii’s Response To First Travel Ban

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin holds a news conference on Feb. 3, 2017 to discuss the lawsuit to stop President Trump’s initial travel ban.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

On Jan. 29, 2017, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin joined with the attorneys general of 15 other states and the District of Columbia to release a public statement condemning the executive order and vowing it would be struck down by the courts.

A week after the travel ban was signed, Chin filed a lawsuit against it in U.S. District Court in Honolulu. Hawaii asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to block the travel ban. The suit was one of many filed against the Trump administration challenging the travel ban.

The same day Hawaii filed its lawsuit, a federal judge in Washington state responded to a lawsuit there by ordering the travel ban to be temporarily put on hold nationwide. Hawaii’s lawsuit was paused while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided whether to reinstate the travel ban. On Feb. 9, 2017, the appeals court ruled against the Trump administration and blocked the travel ban. The decision effectively put Hawaii’s lawsuit on hold and forced the White House to decide whether to take its case to the Supreme Court or revise the travel ban to overcome legal challenges.

Second Trump Travel Ban

Donald Trump signs second travel ban

President Donald Trump signs an executive order on Feb. 6, 2017 to institute a revised travel ban.

White House

President Trump signed a second executive order under the same title, Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States, on March 6, 2017, revising his original travel ban in an attempt to get around the legal challenges it faced.

Unlike the first order, which went into effect immediately, the second order had a 10-day grace period before its rules went into effect. Iraq was also removed from the list of majority-Muslim nations affected by the travel ban, narrowing that list from seven to six. The revised order also dropped the ban on Syrian refugees.

Hawaii’s Response To Second Travel Ban

Hawaii became the first state to challenge the revised travel ban despite its changes, filing a fresh complaint on March 8, 2017 as part of its original federal lawsuit against the Trump administration. The state also asked U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson, who was overseeing the case in Hawaii, to halt the travel ban before it could take effect, arguing that it was designed to discriminate against Muslims.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson

U.S. District Court

On March 15, 2017, Watson issued a 43-page order putting a nationwide temporary halt to the revised travel ban. Watson ruled that Trump’s directive was essentially a Muslim ban disguised as travel order and therefore likely unconstitutional.

Trump criticized Watson’s ruling at a rally in Nashville the same day, vowing that he would eventually prevail in front of the Supreme Court. Watson’s decision briefly ignited some Trump supporters to take to social media using the hashtag #BoycottHawaii.

Jeff Sessions Takes Heat For ‘Island In The Pacific’ Comment

During an interview with conservative radio host Mark Levin on April 18, 2017, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions echoed the president’s confidence that Watson’s ruling would be overturned by the Supreme Court if not at the appellate level. But he faced widespread criticism later for describing Hawaii as “an island in the Pacific.”

Sessions’ comment, as transcribed by the Los Angeles Times:

We are confident that the president will prevail on appeal and particularly in the Supreme Court, if not the 9th Circuit. So this is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.

Hawaii U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono responded to the comment on Twitter by calling it “dog whistle politics.”

Supreme Court Partially Allows Travel Ban

The Supreme Court gave President Trump a limited victory on June 26, 2017 when it said it would hear arguments about the travel ban later in the year and in the meantime would allow the ban to partially take effect.

The court placed some limits on how far Trump’s ban could go while the case was waiting to be heard. The court said the administration couldn’t block people with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” That meant people coming to the U.S. from the targeted countries could continue to do so if they were visiting a relative or attending a university, among other things. While Trump hailed the Supreme Court, Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said it was “premature” for the president to declare victory and that he was optimistic the court would eventually side with Hawaii.

Days later, after the Trump administration issued rules allowing some relatives from the majority Muslim nations to visit the U.S., Hawaii asked the courts to allow even more relatives. On July 19, 2017, following a series of conflicting opinions from lower courts, the Supreme Court sided with Hawaii and ordered the Trump administration to allow more relatives to visit family members in the U.S.

Trump Travel Ban
Honolulu Judge Rejects Hawaii’s Latest Challenge To Travel Ban Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Honolulu Judge Rejects Hawaii’s Latest Challenge To Travel Ban

State had argued that subjecting grandparents and other relatives to the travel ban was “preposterous.”

Hawaii Claims Scaled-Back Trump Travel Ban Still On ‘Flawed Trajectory’ Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii Claims Scaled-Back Trump Travel Ban Still On ‘Flawed Trajectory’

The state argues the new rules are remain too restrictive because they subject grandparents and other relatives of visa holders to the travel ban.

Government Responds To Hawaii’s Latest Travel Ban Challenge Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Government Responds To Hawaii’s Latest Travel Ban Challenge

The ban’s definitions of close family relationships are based on immigration law, U.S. attorneys say in filing with Honolulu court.

‘What Does The US Government Have Against Grandmothers?’ AP

‘What Does The US Government Have Against Grandmothers?’

Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin says the Trump administration’s scaled-back travel ban is illogical in establishing close family relationships.

Hawaii Challenges Trump Administration Again As Travel Ban Takes Effect Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaii Challenges Trump Administration Again As Travel Ban Takes Effect

UPDATED: A ruling isn’t expected until late next week, state Attorney General Doug Chin said Friday.

Chin Says It’s ‘Premature’ For Trump To Claim Victory In Travel Ban Case Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Chin Says It’s ‘Premature’ For Trump To Claim Victory In Travel Ban Case

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban can partially take effect for now, and agreed to hear arguments in the case this fall.

Chin ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Supreme Court Will Back Hawaii On Travel Ban Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Chin ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ Supreme Court Will Back Hawaii On Travel Ban

After winning at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Hawaii’s attorney general expects the challenge to Trump’s executive order to reach the high court.

Appeals Court Upholds Hawaii’s Challenge To Trump Travel Ban Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Appeals Court Upholds Hawaii’s Challenge To Trump Travel Ban

“Immigration, even for the president, is not a one-person show,” say the 9th Circuit judges in Seattle.

Civil Beat Poll: Voters Dislike Trump, Support Lawsuit Against Travel Ban The White House

Civil Beat Poll: Voters Dislike Trump, Support Lawsuit Against Travel Ban

The president’s approval rating of 32 percent is actually higher than the percentage of the state vote he received in November.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Block On Trump Travel Ban Anthony Quintano/Civil Beat

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Block On Trump Travel Ban

The Virginia-based appeals court says even the Trump’s administration’s revised effort targeting Muslim-majority countries is illegal.

Federal Judges Question Whether Trump’s Travel Ban Is A ‘Muslim Ban’ C-SPAN

Federal Judges Question Whether Trump’s Travel Ban Is A ‘Muslim Ban’

A 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel Monday heard arguments in Hawaii’s lawsuit to block key parts of the executive order restricting travel and immigration from countries.

Arguments Conclude On Hawaii’s Challenge Of Trump’s Revised Travel Ban AP/Ted S. Warren

Arguments Conclude On Hawaii’s Challenge Of Trump’s Revised Travel Ban

UPDATED: President’s spokesman expresses confidence that a Honolulu’s judge’s ruling will be overturned.