When Trump issued the third version of his travel ban last month, I saw a number of articles that claimed that this one would be much harder to defeat in the courts because of the changes that had been made to it. So far, two different federal judges have blocked it:
A judge in Maryland has become the second federal judge in the country to block the Trump administration’s latest travel ban hours before it was set to take full effect.
U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang granted a nationwide preliminary injunction late Tuesday, after U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii blocked the revised ban.
These rulings may be overturned by a higher court, but it is worth noting that both of these rulings hold that the third version of the ban suffers from the same fatal flaws that plagued the last two. The arbitrary addition of Venezuela and North Korea and the baffling inclusion of Chad have not changed the fact that the main effect of the policy is to institute a blanket ban on visits from these countries’ nationals based solely on their nationality. The judge in Hawaii said that this amounts to unlawful discrimination, and if that interpretation is right there is no legal way to impose a ban as sweeping and arbitrary as this.
Even if the travel ban isn’t illegal, it remains a stupid and unnecessary policy. It is designed to counter a wildly exaggerated threat in a massive piece of security theater that bars people that pose no danger to the U.S. from traveling here. The inclusion of Chad has illustrated just how preposterous the ban is, since in their case it is being applied to a state that has closely cooperated with the U.S. on counter-terrorism. Including them in the ban may have already contributed to harming regional security:
Chad has not explained publicly why it has been withdrawing its forces, which were fighting Boko Haram militants in the region as part of a multinational task force, and was first reported by Reuters. But security analysts and former defense officials said it was likely connected to its inclusion in President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, which Chad’s government said “astonished” and “baffled” them.
“Chad did say at the time that they would review their security commitments, and it makes perfect, logical sense that they are signaling to the US ‘How about you experience us backing off for a while and see how you like it?’” said Alice Hunter Friend, the Pentagon’s former principal director for African affairs who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The national security justification for this policy has never been credible, and banning Chad’s citizens from the U.S. just underscores how irrational and ill-conceived the policy has been from the start.