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Federal Judge Strikes Down Travel Ban 3.0, Leaving N. Korea and Venezuela In the Dark

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Just one day before Presidential Proclamation No. 9645, “Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats,” was set to go into effect, a federal judge in Hawaii issued a ruling blocking portions of the Presidential Proclamation from being enforced on a majority, but not ALL, of the countries, listed in the Proclamation.

The Presidential Proclamation, commonly referred to in the media as ‘travel ban 3.0’ set out to suspend the entry of foreign nationals from eight “countries of identified concern,” and the admission of foreign nationals from those countries was to remain limited until further notice.

The countries to be affected by travel ban 3.0 included: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia. A federal judge from the state of Hawaii by the name of Derrick Watson has granted a temporary restraining order preventing the government from suspending the admission of foreign nationals from the following countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, but DOES NOT prevent the government from suspending the admission of foreign nationals from North Korea and Venezuela, and from imposing stricter screening standards on Iraqi nationals. The restrictions on foreign nationals from North Korea, Venezuela, and Iraq will continue to be enforced according to the Proclamation, beginning today, Thursday, October 19, 2017. Restrictions on North Koreans and Venezuelans will likely remain indefinitely, given that the U.S. government has no formal diplomatic avenues for communication with those countries.

Judge Derrick Watson wrote in his opinion that the latest revision of the ban, “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor,” and “lacks the sufficient finds that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from [the] specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,” and “plainly discriminates based on nationality.”

Travel ban 3.0 which was set to begin on October 19, 2017 will only apply to the countries listed in red. Countries listed in black will no longer be prevented from traveling to the United States per the judge’s order, at least until arguments have been heard on appeal:

  • Chad: all immigrants and non-immigrants (including B-1 and B-2)
  • Iran: all immigrants and non-immigrants except for F, M, and J visa holders but Iranian nationals seeking these types of visas will be subject to enhanced vetting
  • Libya: all immigrants and non-immigrants (including B-1 and B-2)
  • North Korea: all immigrants and non-immigrants
  • Syria: All immigrants and non-immigrants
  • Venezuela: Limited to suspension of the entry of certain government officials of agencies in Venezuela and their immediate relatives visiting the United States on non-immigrant B-1 or B-2 visas. Nationals of Venezuela “who are visa holders” may be subject to additional measures to ensure that their traveler information is current.
  • Yemen: all immigrants and non-immigrants (including B-1 and B-2)
  • Somalia: all immigrants. Visa adjudications for nationals of Somalia and decisions regarding their entry as non-immigrants may be subject to additional scrutiny to determine connections to terrorist organizations or threats to national security and public safety.
  • The Secretary of Homeland Security has recommended that nationals of Iraq be more heavily scrutinized when seeking entry to the United States to determine any potential terrorist risk they pose to the United States.

Note: The travel ban DOES NOT affect lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders), any foreign national admitted or paroled into the United States, dual nationals so long as the individual is traveling on a passport from a non-designated country, foreign nationals granted asylum, refugees already admitted to the United States, etc.

The Proclamation initially set out to impose a travel ban on these countries, because they remained “deficient. . . with respect to their identity-management and information-sharing capabilities, protocols, and practices,” and as a result the entry of foreign nationals from these countries could pose a potential threat to our country’s national security. The Department of Justice has said that they will once again appeal the issuance of the temporary restraining order.