travel ban

Judge Temporarily Halts New Version of Trump’s Travel Ban

President Trump’s attempts to block travelers from a handful of countries — most of them predominantly Muslim — from coming to the United States hit another legal snag on Tuesday, when a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order freezing most of Mr. Trump’s third travel ban the day before it was to take effect.

At least for now, the judge’s order will prevent the Trump administration from stopping almost all travel to the United States indefinitely from most of the countries named in the ban.

The ban, now in its third iteration, was one of Mr. Trump’s earliest and most controversial decisions after taking office in January, and it has also been one of the most legally troubled. Both previous versions were ordered halted by federal district judges who said they violated the Constitution or exceeded the president’s authority, and those orders were upheld on appeal.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to review the second version of the order when Mr. Trump issued the third. Given the litigation surrounding the travel bans, the Supreme Court seems likely to take an interest in the current version as well.

Citing his campaign promises to keep terrorists and criminals out of the country, Mr. Trump initially ordered an immediate suspension of travelfrom seven predominantly Muslim countries, a move that plunged airports across the country into confusion and protest in January. That order was eventually blocked by a federal judge in Seattle. Mr. Trump’s second attempt narrowed the scope of the ban, but still struggled to survive judicial scrutiny; it was blocked in March by the same Hawaii judge who issued Tuesday’s order, Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu.

The third travel ban, Judge Watson wrote on Tuesday, “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.” Among those flaws, he wrote, was that the ban “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in a way that undercut “the founding principles of this Nation,” and that the government had not shown that the United States’ national interests would be harmed by admitting travelers from the affected countries.

The Trump administration swiftly denounced the judge’s order, saying that the latest travel restrictions were issued after an “extensive worldwide security review” by Homeland Security officials.

The judge’s order “undercuts the President’s efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States,” the White House said in a statement. “These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.” The statement called the ban “lawful and necessary” and expressed confidence that the courts would “swiftly restore its vital protections.”

The third version of the ban went further than the original, imposing permanent restrictions on travel instead of the original 90-day suspensions. Most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea, as well as certain Venezuelan government officials and their families, were to be excluded from entering the United States at all, while citizens of Iraq were to face extra barriers to entry. The ban was scheduled to go into effect on Wednesday.

Judge Watson’s order blocks the administration from shutting the country’s doors to people from Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia. It does not prevent the administration from barring North Koreans or Venezuelans or from subjecting Iraqis to stricter scrutiny.

Protesters marched at a rally in downtown Los Angeles in October in response to President Trump’s most recent travel ban. CreditMark Ralston/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The White House took pains to emphasize that the latest version was extensively vetted, with each of the affected countries subject to its own set of restrictions tailored to its security capabilities. The rollout of the third version of the executive order was supposed to avoid all the chaos of the first one: Legal permanent residents who were barred from the United States under the first travel ban would not be affected by the third, and people who already hold valid visas, including students now in the United States and employees of American businesses, would not have their visas revoked, as could have happened under the earlier ban. (Once their visas expired, however, they would be subject to the ban.)

Administration officials noted that non-Muslim countries were included in the order. But critics of the ban said that the addition of North Koreans and a small number of Venezuelans did little to disguise the ban’s targeting of Muslims.

Judge Watson appeared to find few substantial differences between Mr. Trump’s second effort and his third.

“Professional athletes mirror the federal government in this respect,” he wrote. “They operate within a set of rules, and when one among them forsakes those rules in favor of his own, problems ensue.”

The judge found that the government’s rationale for barring people from certain countries from entering the United States — that doing so would bolster national security — did not make sense, writing that the administration had failed to show a clear link between a person’s nationality and the threat he or she posed.

“The categorical restrictions on entire populations of men, women, and children, based upon nationality, are a poor fit for the issues regarding the sharing of ‘public-safety and terrorism-related information’ that the president identifies,” the judge wrote. Meanwhile, he added, dangerous people of other nationalities could fall outside the scope of the ban: “This leads to absurd results,” he wrote, adding that the executive order was “simultaneously overbroad and underinclusive.”

The judge also said that the order contradicted the administration’s public rationale by applying fewer restrictions to people from Iraq and Venezuela, which the administration said had failed to clear the security standards it had set, than it did on Somalia, which had met the baseline requirements. The administration also provided no coherent explanation for many of the carve-outs for certain categories of people in the ban, such as Iranian students, the judge wrote.

While the administration’s national security goals were important, Judge Watson said, the government had failed to prove that letting people affected by the ban into the country would directly harm the interests of the United States.

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Ian Prior, said the judge’s order failed to “properly respect the separation of powers” between the executive branch and the judiciary, and said the administration would appeal. The government has consistently argued that the president has broad powers to determine who may enter the country.

The judge’s ruling came in a suit filed by the state of Hawaii. The state’s attorney general, Douglas Chin, said in a statement: “This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion. Today is another victory for the rule of law. We stand ready to defend it.”

Judge Watson’s earlier ruling on the second version of the travel ban was upheld by an appeals court, but the Supreme Court ultimately allowed portions of that travel ban to take effect. It also allowed Mr. Trump to continue controlling the flow of refugees into the country. Administration officials said last month that Mr. Trump would cap refugee admissions at 45,000 over the next year.


Trump travel ban notches symbolic win in court

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed one of two cases over President Donald Trump’s ban on visitors from mostly Muslim countries, suggesting it will step away from the controversy for now.

The court got rid of a case that originated in Maryland and involves a ban that has now expired and been replaced by a new version. But the justices took no action on a separate case from Hawaii. That dispute concerns both the travel ban and a separate ban on refugees, which does not expire until October 24.

The decision was mostly symbolic victory to the Republican president because the legal context had become outdated; the second version of the decree prohibited for 90 days entry into the United States to travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.

Dismissing the cases would allow the court to avoid ruling on difficult legal issues, at least for a while.

The justices had combined the two cases and set them for argument that was to have taken place Tuesday. But after the travel ban expired last month and a new policy was rolled out, the court canceled the argument and began to weigh whether it should decide the legality of the policy after all.

The third and latest version of the travel ban is supposed to take full effect Oct. 18 and already has been challenged in the courts.

Five of the six countries included in the travel ban the Supreme Court was supposed to review remain in the latest version.

Jewish groups join criticism of Trump’s updated travel ban

The Trump administration spent months hashing out new travel restrictions on more than a half-dozen countries, determined to avoid the chaos that accompanied its first travel ban. But critics say it’s a mystery why some countries are included, and they believe Venezuela and North Korea were added to provide legal and political cover for what they say remains a “Muslim ban.”

The new restrictions covering citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — and some Venezuelan government officials and their families — are to go into effect October 18.

Reaction to the President Donald Trump’s announcement was swift, including among several US Jewish groups, with some critics of the original travel ban expressing similar concerns about the latest effort to toughen the country’s border.

The Anti-Defamation League said in Twitter post on the ban that it was “standing firmly against it.”

“The details may be different but the consequences of the latest travel ban will be just as devastating as the earlier ones,” the ADL said in an accompanying statement. “This new proclamation, like the first two travel bans, tear families apart and runs counter to our values as a nation that has stood as a beacon of hope for people around the world.”

The left-wing group J Street issued a statement in which it said it “strongly opposes the latest iteration of President Trump’s travel ban.”

“This updated executive order continues to be an unacceptable affront to our Jewish and American values,” J Street wrote. “As the descendants of immigrants, many of whom came to the United States seeking refuge from persecution, we recognize these bans for what they are: A betrayal of our country’s proud legacy of welcoming immigrants.”

Liberal social action group Bend the Arc said the ban was clearly bigoted.

“President Trump’s latest attempt at a ‘Muslim ban,’ like all the others, undermines fundamental American and Jewish values with its explicit bigotry and xenophobia,” Stosh Cotler, the chief executive of Bend the Arc Jewish Action said in a statement. “These immoral restrictions, which make no actual contribution to protecting our country, send an unmistakable message to Muslims and immigrants in the United States and around the world: ‘You are not welcome here.’”

Critics said the inclusion of some countries appeared to be largely symbolic and intended to combat perceptions that the ban is targeting Muslims.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement: “President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list.”

As for the previous version, which expired on Sunday, the Supreme Court on Monday announced it would cancel arguments scheduled for next month to give both sides time to consider the implications of the new one. They have until October 5 to weigh in.

Trump’s efforts to restrict entry into the US have been the subject of lawsuits almost since the moment he announced the first travel ban in January, and the latest version is sure to attract new legal challenges — though experts are divided on how they might fare.

Administration officials have stressed the latest version is the result of a lengthy process, and based on an objective assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the US.

The restrictions are based on new baseline factors such as whether countries issue electronic passports with biometric information to prevent fraud and report information about potential terror threats. That baseline was shared with countries across the globe, and they were given 50 days to comply.

Those that failed to satisfy the “objective process of measuring whether countries met the baseline” are now subject to new restrictions.

The countries that ultimately were included on the list fall into three basic categories, officials said.

Some, like Iran and Syria, pose legitimate national security threats to the US and refuse to cooperate with US consular investigations.

Another category includes countries like Yemen and Libya, where local authorities have sought to be as cooperative as possible but lack full control over their territory and the basic ability to provide the information the US wants. In those cases, officials said, the US tried to stress that inclusion on the list wasn’t an indictment of those nations’ commitment to fighting terrorism.

The final category includes countries like North Korea and Venezuela whose citizens don’t necessarily pose a major threat to the US but where the administration wanted to send a message that the government’s broader actions are unacceptable.

Sudan vows to normalize ties with US as travel ban lifted

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan vowed Monday to step up efforts to normalize relations with the United States after Washington dropped the country from a list of countries facing a US travel ban.

US President Donald Trump decided to remove Sudan from the list just days ahead of an October 12 decision when he is to determine whether to permanently lift decades-old US sanctions on Khartoum.

The decision was “a positive development in the two countries’ bilateral relations,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

It was a result of a “clear and long dialogue” and growing cooperation between the two countries on regional and international issues, the ministry said.

“The government of Sudan will carry out more efforts to remove all obstacles to a full normalization of relations with the American administration,” it said.

Sudan was one of six Muslim-majority countries on the original list, and Trump on Sunday ordered it to be dropped as he issued a new list under which eight nations now have complete or partial blocks on travel to the United States.

Full travel bans were placed on nationals from North Korea and Chad, while restrictions for Venezuela were limited to officials from a long list of government agencies and their families.

Other countries included in the ban were Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

Sudan said it will monitor travelers heading to the United States from its airports.

“Sudanese authorities are professional and qualified enough to monitor who is traveling through Sudanese airports,” the ministry said.

The US has recently praised Sudan’s efforts in fighting terrorism, and Trump is due to decide next month whether to permanently lift sanctions imposed on Khartoum in 1997 for its alleged support of Islamist groups.

Supreme Court Cancels Hearing on Previous Trump Travel Ban

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday abruptly canceled oral arguments on President Trump’s travel ban, signaling the beginning of the end for a politically charged legal case that could have produced a blockbuster ruling on the clash between presidential power and claims of religious discrimination.

A new, broader ban on travel prompted the unusual move by the justices, leaving Mr. Trump to face scrutiny on a policy that in some ways goes even further — indefinitely banning most travel to the United States from seven countries and imposing restrictions on two others.

But the president’s third attempt at controlling the border may finally stand up to the expected wave of new legal challenges. The new ban includes two countries that are not majority Muslim, which may insulate him from charges that his actions are based on religious discrimination.

And the new ban was developed after a vigorous security review that administration officials said provided a legally unassailable rationale for the travel restrictions. The court was set to hear the challenge to Mr. Trump’s travel ban in two weeks. But after the president’s announcement over the weekend, the justices now appear likely to declare the case moot.

That would allow Mr. Trump to avoid a definitive ruling on whether he had violated the Constitution’s protection of religious freedom and exceeded his statutory authority to control the country’s borders, as civil rights lawyers argued. With lower courts having ruled against him, Mr. Trump was pinning his hopes for political vindication on an ideologically divided Supreme Court.

Critics say Travel Ban 3.0 is still little more than a dressed-up Muslim ban. And despite a less chaotic rollout, questions remain about how the travel ban will be implemented, who will be affected, how the countries were picked and whether it will work to prevent terrorist attacks.

Here are answers to some of those questions:

Why did Trump ban travel from these countries?

The Department of Homeland Security said the countries covered under the presidential proclamation were chosen because they could not properly establish the identity of people seeking to travel from those countries to the United States. Officials said the countries on the list did not share information about whether potential travelers have a criminal history or connections to terrorism. And some of the countries are known to be potential terrorist safe havens.

Administration officials said countries on the banned-travel list failed to meet what they called “objective criteria.” They will be subject to the travel ban until they can demonstrate their ability to deliver the information requested by the United States, officials said.

Will this prevent a terrorist attack?

While counterterrorism experts say improvements to the government’s vetting capabilities are necessary, they say the new restrictions may be far too broad because they focus on countries and not individuals.

An internal report written by intelligence analysts at the Department of Homeland Security in February found that “country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.”

Moreover, the Cato Institute found that since 1975, no Americans have been killed on American soil by foreign-born terrorists who come from any of the countries on the new executive order: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea, Iraq and Venezuela. The New America Foundation found that since the Sept. 11 attacks, 95 Americans have been killed by terrorists inside the United States. Each of the terrorists was a citizen or legal resident of the United States, who would not be affected by the new travel restrictions.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States has made a number of changes to its vetting system for foreign visitors, immigrants and refugees.

The government has created a number of terrorist watch lists, required visitors to provide biometric information including fingerprints and facial scans, hired new consular officers and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to conduct visa security background checks and improved both interagency and country-to-country intelligence sharing.

Some counterterrorism experts say the new travel restrictions could make the United States less safe.
“My concern over the travel restrictions on countries like Yemen, Chad and Somalia is that it may discourage those countries from cooperating on vital counterterrorism efforts in their countries, and that will hurt our efforts to go after Al Shabab, Al Qaeda and ISIS,” said John D. Cohen, a professor at Rutgers University and a senior Homeland Security Department official during the Obama administration.

Isn’t this just a Muslim ban?

Like his first travel bans, the president’s latest restriction mostly targets predominantly Muslim countries. But officials note that two non-Muslim countries — North Korea and Venezuela — are on the list this time. They say that should be proof that the latest ban was not designed to target one religion.

Critics are not convinced. They continue to point to Mr. Trump’s history of calling for a ban on Muslim entry into the United States. And they insist that the addition of two non-Muslim countries does little to alter the original intent of the restrictions: to keep Muslims from certain countries out of the United States.

“President Trump’s original sin of targeting Muslims cannot be cured by throwing other countries onto his enemies list,” said Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

How involved was the White House in drafting the new travel ban?

When it comes to immigration issues, very little happens in the Trump administration without the direct input of Stephen Miller, the president’s senior policy adviser, and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. But administration officials said the process of selecting countries for travel restrictions involved scores of career bureaucrats at the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and the intelligence agencies.

Officials said information collected by the agencies helped generate a recommendation from the secretary of homeland security to the president. On Friday, Mr. Trump met at his Bedminster, N.J., golf club with officials from the agencies, legal advisers and Mr. Sessions to make a final decision.

So what will happen now in the courts?

The Supreme Court asked lawyers in the case involving the previous ban to submit briefs by Oct. 5 addressing “whether, or to what extent, the proclamation” may render the case moot. The court also asked for briefings on a question not addressed in the proclamation, concerning the earlier ban’s suspension of the nation’s refugee program. That suspension is scheduled to expire next month. On that question, too, the court asked the parties to explain whether the issue would soon be moot.

By canceling the arguments for now, the court indicated that it may never decide the case. “The cases are removed from the oral argument calendar, pending further order of the court,” the court said.

If the court does eventually dismiss the case as moot, a further legal question will remain. The Trump administration will ask the court to vacate the appeals court decisions striking down the earlier ban, while the challengers will ask that the decisions remain on the books.

Several critics have said they intend to challenge the new ban in court as well. But that would most likely require a new lawsuit at the federal district court level, followed by hearings in front of appellate courts. It could take a long time for new litigation to reach the Supreme Court again.

But legal experts say that critics of the president’s policies may have less success waging a legal battle against the latest travel ban.

In the first case, administration officials struggled to explain to judges the basis for the selection of the majority-Muslim countries on the list. That led judges to rely on Mr. Trump’s campaign statements and tweets, many of which suggested religion as a motivation.

The current travel ban was put in place after a worldwide security review, and officials can point to a rigorous process conducted by bureaucrats from several agencies. That is the kind of executive branch action to regulate immigration and the country’s borders that is usually given plenty of deference by judges.

The new travel ban takes effect Oct. 18, though citizens of countries included in the earlier orders will remain banned from entry until the new one takes over. Unlike the chaotic rollout of the president’s first executive order, the latest travel restrictions have clear exceptions for people who already have permission to enter the United States, so there should be few instances of people being detained at airports or consulates.

As for students, it depends. Citizens of some of the affected countries are completely banned from coming to the United States, including as students. Those include Syria and North Korea. Students of the other countries may still travel to the United States to study, assuming they can meet the normal requirements for a student visa and pass security screenings.



WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump is considering a new order to replace his soon-to-expire travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries that would be tailored on a country-by-country basis to protect the United States from attacks, US officials said Friday.

With the current ban on people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen due to expire Sunday, Trump was given recommendations by Elaine Duke, the acting homeland security secretary, but has not yet made a decision on the details of any new order, the officials told reporters.

Miles Taylor, counselor to Duke, said she recommended to Trump “actions that are tough and that are tailored, including travel restrictions and enhanced screening for certain countries.” Taylor declined to say which or how many countries would be targeted, including the status of the six countries covered by the current ban.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said that while “we can’t get into decision-making,” the next step will be a presidential proclamation setting out the new policy. He declined to say when that would come, including whether Trump would act before the existing ban expires.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the rights group that mounted one of the legal challenges to the March order, expressed skepticism about Trump’s forthcoming action.

“This looks to be the Trump administration’s third try to make good on an unconstitutional campaign promise to ban Muslims from the United States,” ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said.

Trump’s six-nation travel ban was laid out in a March 6 executive order that was blocked by federal courts before being allowed to go into effect with some limits by the US Supreme Court in June.

Under the recommendations Trump is weighing, there would be restrictions on US entry that differ by nation, based on cooperation with American security mandates, the threat the United States believes each country presents and other variables, Taylor said. He did not specify the nature of the restrictions, but said that after being imposed they could be lifted “if conditions change.”

The legal question of whether the existing ban discriminates against Muslims in violation of the US Constitution, as lower courts previously ruled, will be argued before the Supreme Court on Oct. 10. Officials declined to say how the proposed change in policy could affect the upcoming Supreme Court case.

The March travel ban and an earlier January one that targeted the same six countries as well as Iraq are some of the most controversial actions taken by Trump since assuming office in January.

Critics have called the policy an unlawful “Muslim ban,” accusing the Republican president of discriminating against Muslims in violation of constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equal protection under the law, breaking existing US immigration law, and stoking religious hatred.

Trump, who has promised that “radical Islamic terrorism” will be “eradicated,” wrote on Twitter on Sept. 15: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific-but stupidly, that would not be politically correct!”


The expiring ban blocked entry into the United States by people from the six countries for 90 days and locked out most aspiring refugees for 120 days to give Trump’s administration time to conduct a worldwide review of US vetting procedures for foreign visitors. The existing refugee ban expires on Oct. 24.

Taylor said American officials in July notified every foreign government of requirements for the minimum cooperation the United States needs to validate traveler identities to ensure they do not represent a national security threat. Those countries were given 50 days to respond.

People from countries that did not meet the requirements may not be allowed to enter the United States or may face other travel restrictions, Taylor said. Most countries met those requirements or agreed to work toward meeting them, Taylor added.

“At the end of the day, some countries were still unable or, worse yet, deliberately unwilling to comply with the new baseline that we laid out,” Taylor said.

Trump, who promised as a candidate to impose “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” has said the soon-to-expire ban was needed to protect the United States from terrorism.

“We need to know who is coming into our country,” Taylor said. “We should be able to validate their identities and we should be able to confirm that our foreign partners do not have information suggesting such individuals may represent a threat to the United States.”

While Trump’s January and March orders were quickly blocked by federal courts, the expected new restrictions might be harder to challenge because they are the product of a worldwide review process examining vetting procedures of foreign countries, legal experts said.

Trump’s Travel Ban to Be Replaced by Restrictions Tailored to Certain Countries

WASHINGTON — President Trump is replacing his ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries with severe restrictions on visitors from nations he has determined do too little to protect against terrorists and criminals coming into the United States, officials said on Friday.

The new travel restrictions could include indefinite bans on entry until vetting procedures and security cooperation improves, officials said. They will go into effect as soon as Sunday, after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration’s original travel ban.

Officials said Mr. Trump will soon announce the list of countries subject to the travel restrictions. They declined to say whether the list would include all six countries from which travel was temporarily banned by a revised executive order in March: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The president hinted that the changes were coming in a tweet after a crude bomb exploded on a London Underground train last week: “The travel ban into the United States should be far larger, tougher and more specific,” Mr. Trump wrote. Officials said Mr. Trump was given a “decision brief” on the travel ban by senior officials during a meeting Friday at the president’s Bedminster club.

The announcement is the culmination of the biggest legal challenge to Mr. Trump’s presidential authority since he took office. It came just over two weeks before the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in lawsuits that claim Mr. Trump exceeded his authority and defied the constitution by banning entry from the six countries.

“We need to know who is coming into our country. We should be able to validate their identities,” said Miles Taylor, the counselor to the secretary of homeland security. He said the new restrictions represent a significant increase in toughening “national security standards and protecting the homeland.”

The administration’s critics expressed deep reservations about the new restrictions and left open the possibility that they will file additional legal challenges once the list of countries is revealed.

“We tend to look at anything coming out of this White House with a great deal of skepticism,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “While it has been clear that a neutral vetting system across the board needs to be looked at on its merits, this seems to be a third rescue of the failed Muslim ban.”

In stark contrast to the original travel ban, which was implemented with virtually no notice only days after Mr. Trump took office, officials said the new travel restrictions were developed after intense negotiations with security officials in countries around the world.

Those officials were given standards they must meet in order to avoid travel restrictions, including the ability to verify the identity of a traveler, communicate electronic passport information, use biometric devices and share information about terrorist and criminal networks with the United States.

Countries that did not meet those standards as of mid-July were given 50 days to comply or face the threat of severe travel restrictions, officials said.

“It was crystal clear,” Mr. Taylor told reporters on Friday. To countries who failed to meet or accept the new requirements, Mr. Taylor said, the message from American diplomats was blunt: “You will face potential consequences from the United States.”

In the end, officials said that some of those countries added measures to improve security for passports and to better identify potential terrorist threats. They will not face additional travel restrictions. But other countries either could not meet the tougher vetting standards or willfully refused to engage with the United States government.

People in the countries that will be identified by Mr. Trump will soon face new travel restrictions, officials said.

“The Trump administration will ensure that the people who travel to the United States are properly vetted and those that don’t belong here aren’t allowed to enter,” said Jonathan Hoffman, the assistant secretary of homeland security for public affairs.

Mr. Trump’s original ban blocked all travel to the United States by refugees as well as nationals of seven countries, including Iraq, which was later deemed to have improved its screening of potential travelers and was taken off the banned list.

The ban caused chaos at airports around the country and prompted a torrent of criticism from immigrant rights activists, lawmakers in both parties, business executives, academic leaders and diplomats from around the world.

A furious legal assault on the president’s travel ban delayed its implementation for months, as federal judges agreed with immigrant rights groups that the original ban unconstitutionally targeted a particular religion or exceeded the president’s statutory authority to block immigration. In June, the Supreme Court allowed the travel ban to take effect, with some significant restrictions, while the justices consider the merits of the case.

The changes to be announced this weekend could have a profound impact on the court case, complicating the review by the justices and potentially making parts of the case moot even before the oral arguments, which are scheduled for Oct. 10.

Officials from the Department of Justice declined to answer questions about whether they intend to take any actions related to the court case before the oral arguments. A spokesman for the department told reporters that “we are continuing to vigorously defend the president’s executive order.”

The original travel ban included restrictions on entry into the United States by refugees from around the world. The new rules do not appear to alter the limits on refugees, leaving that question open for the Supreme Court to decide.

The justices are likely to seek new input from lawyers for the government and for the groups challenging the travel ban before arguments begin.

Restrictions on travel are not unique to the Trump administration. The Department of Homeland Security employs almost 2,000 people in about 80 countries around the world screening high-risk travelers seeking to visit the United States.

For years, customs officers in the Immigration Advisory Program worked with airline employees and foreign security officials to review passenger ticketing data and examined documents in an attempt to detect fraud. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agents and State Department counterterrorism officials are also stationed at diplomatic posts to screen visa applicants for ties to terrorism, drug smuggling and human trafficking and to help ensure that ineligible applicants do not receive visas.

Dozens of officers at the National Targeting Center, which is run by Customs and Border Protection, have combed through passenger lists and cargo manifests since the days after the Sept. 11 attacks. Officers help identify which passengers should be subject to additional questioning by customs officers.

Mr. Trump and his national security officials have argued from the beginning that the travel ban was intended to give the government time to ensure that those practices were sufficient to make sure that terrorists are not able to enter the United States using travel documents for people on vacation or seeking temporary employment.

Critics accused the administration of basing threat assessments of travelers solely on the religion of the majority of people who lived in the nations identified by the executive order.

Some counterterrorism experts say a targeted vetting system that screens individuals on a case-by-case basis makes more sense than a total ban on travelers from certain countries.

“Vetting those coming to the United States against the broadest array of intelligence and law enforcement information is good security. Banning people because of their religion, ethnicity or country of origin is not good security and counter to our constitutional principles,” said John D. Cohen, a professor at Rutgers University and a former senior Homeland Security Department official during the Obama administration.

Mr. Cohen other counterterrorism experts said the Trump administration should beef up the existing programs that are intended to prevent criminals and national security threats from entering the country.

San Francisco court deals blow to Trump travel ban

LOS ANGELES — A federal court in California dealt a new blow Thursday to the Trump administration’s travel ban, ruling that some refugees must be allowed into the country.

It is the latest twist of the legal wrangling touched off by US President Donald Trump’s ban, first announced in January with little notice and widely criticized as discriminatory against Muslims. Trump says it is needed to keep out terrorists.

In the new ruling, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, upheld a ruling by a court in Hawaii, a decision against which the administration had appealed.

The new decision states that the ban must exclude “refugees who have a formal assurance from an agency within the United States that the agency will provide or ensure the provision of reception and placement services to that refugee.”

It could pave the way for the entry of some 24,000 refugees whose asylum requests had already been approved.

And as the US Supreme Court had ruled in July, the three-judge panel in San Francisco confirmed that the ban cannot be applied to grandparents and other close family members living in six mainly Muslim countries and seeking to visit relatives in the United States.

The Supreme Court ruled in late June that the 90-day travel ban, purportedly aimed at better screening of potential security risks, can be broadly enforced for travelers from the six mainly Muslim countries “who lack any bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Days later, the Trump administration interpreted that to mean that only “close family” was exempted. It defined this as the parents, spouses, children, sons- and daughters-in-law, siblings and step- and half-siblings of people in the United States.

The California court said Wednesday the administration “does not offer a persuasive explanation for why a mother-in-law is clearly a bona fide relationship in the Supreme Court’s prior reasoning, but a grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or cousin is not.”

The San Francisco court was ruling on the issue because the Supreme Court had refused a Justice Department request that it define what it means by “bona fide relationship” and “close family.”

The Justice Department issued a statement saying “we will now return to the Supreme Court to vindicate the executive branch duty to protect the nation.”

The Supreme Court is scheduled to revisit the travel ban and study its constitutionality in October.



More than 200 rabbis from the liberal movements of American Judaism signed a letter opposing Israel’s travel ban on leaders of the boycott movement against Israel.

The rabbis signing Wednesday’s letter were responding to an incident last month in which Rabbi Alissa Wise of Jewish Voice for Peace, which supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, was prevented from boarding an Israel-bound airplane leaving Dulles Airport in Washington, DC.

Four other people traveling to Israel as part of an interfaith delegation, including two other Jews, a Christian and a Muslim, were also prevented from boarding the flight at the request of the Israeli government.

“We hold diverse opinions on BDS. Even though many of us have substantive differences with Rabbi Wise and other rabbinic colleagues who support the BDS movement in some or all of its forms, we believe that the decision to bar Rabbi Wise from visiting Israel is anti-democratic and desecrates our vision of a diverse Jewish community that holds multiple perspectives,” read the letter, which had been signed by 212 rabbis as of late Wednesday morning.

“Boycotts are a legitimate nonviolent tactic that have been used both in our own country and around the world in order to create justice for marginalized and oppressed communities. Whether we support boycott is a controversy for the sake of heaven. It endures because we struggle together and debate how we can create peace, justice, and equality for Israelis and Palestinians alike,” the letter said.

The signers included Rabbi Sharon Brous, of the independent IKAR congregation in Los Angeles; Rabbi Amy Eilberg of Los Altos, California, the first women ordained by the Conservative movement; and Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

In March, the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, amended the Law of Entry to prevent leaders of the BDS movement from being allowed into Israel. The amendment applies to organizations, as well as the leadership and senior activists of those groups, that take consistent and significant action against Israel through BDS and threaten it with material harm.

JVP said at the time of the incident that it was the first time the amendment had been enforced before passengers boarded their flights to Israel and the first time that Israel has denied entry to Jews, including a rabbi, for their support of BDS.

An anti-BDS bill making its way through Congress would expand existing law that bans boycotts imposed by foreign governments to include those imposed by international organizations like the European Union and the United Nations.

Judge in Hawaii rules grandparents are exempt from Trump travel ban

A federal judge in Hawaii has ruled that grandparents and other relatives should be exempt from the enforcement of President Trump’s travel ban, which bars people from six Muslim-majority countries.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson ruled Thursday night that the federal government’s list of family relatives eligible to bypass the travel ban should be expanded to include grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts and other relatives. Watson also ordered exemptions for refugees who have been given formal assurance from agencies placing them in the United States.

In Watson’s ruling, he said the government’s definition of what constitutes close family “represents the antithesis of common sense.”

“Common sense, for instance, dictates that close family members be defined to include grandparents,” Watson wrote. “Indeed, grandparents are the epitome of close family members. The Government’s definition excludes them. That simply cannot be.”

The order delivered another legal hit to the president’s travel ban and a “sweeping victory” for those against it, as Neal Katyal, a lawyer for those challenging the measure, wrote. The ruling from Watson, a judge who has frequently been criticized by Trump and his administration for his unfavorable orders, marked yet another successful attempt by Hawaii to challenge the administration’s executive order.

The Supreme Court ruled late last month that the government could begin enforcing the travel restrictions, but not on people with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship” with a person or entity in the United States.

The Trump administration then decided to make exceptions for spouses, parents, parents-in-law, children, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, fiances and siblings of those already in the country. However, they barred grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law.

The government rolled out the measure on June 29, affecting travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. As part of the measure, officials could also block refugees with a formal assurance from a resettlement agency.

Hawaii had asked Watson to rule on the federal government’s interpretation of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Trump’s executive order, arguing that the list of exemptions to the travel ban was too narrow.

In his ruling, Watson wrote that modifying the scope of the ban is “necessary to preserve the status quo” in regards to the government’s definition of “close familial relationship.” The government’s use of specific, family-based visa restrictions “constitutes cherry-picking,” and contradicts the Supreme Court’s decision late last month, Watson wrote.

Watson also ordered exemptions for refugees that are members of the Lautenberg program, which allows certain nationals of the former Soviet Union and other countries with “close family in the United States” to apply for refugee status. Refugees through this program were previously not exempt from the ban because the program includes grandparents and grandchildren as “close family,” according to Watson’s ruling.

He also argued a refugee’s assurance from an agency satisfies the Supreme Court’s “bona fide” relationship requirement because of the formal, binding nature of the contract.

“Bona fide does not get any more bona fide than that,” Watson wrote.

As part of his executive order, Trump set a 50,000-person cap on refugee admissions, which the United States already surpassed on Wednesday.

Earlier this month, Watson denied a similar request to curtail enforcement and clarify who is exempt from the ban, saying that he would not “usurp the prerogative of the Supreme Court.” But late Thursday night, he ruled that this time around, the plaintiffs had met their burden of establishing why legal relief was necessary.

Read the judge’s ruling