Obama Judge Blocks Trump’s New Travel Order
History is repeating itself, unfortunately.
By Matthew Vadum
President Trump’s new, narrowly tailored temporary ban on travel from select countries plagued by Islamic terrorism was put on hold at the eleventh hour yesterday by the latest in a series of soft-headed, left-wing federal judges determined to sabotage presidential efforts to secure the nation’s borders.
Lawyer Justin Cox of the George Soros-funded National Immigration Law Center, hailed the ruling, saying the judge in this case found that “the primary purpose of the executive order is to discriminate against Muslims.”
The temporary travel ban is “a shaming device” and “a dehumanizing device” that “perpetuates this myth, this damaging stereotype of Muslims as terrorists.”
Trump vowed to fight on at a high-energy rally in Nashville, saying the ruling was “terrible” and suggested it was “done by a judge for political reasons.” This was “an unprecedented judicial overreach,” he said, adding he would take the legal case “as far as it needs to go,” including the Supreme Court. “The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear.”
Trump critics like Cox deride the new executive order, falsely claiming it is a “Muslim ban,” even though it leaves out the vast majority of Muslim-majority countries on earth. Even if it did single out Muslims, it should still survive constitutional scrutiny, many legal experts say. The Constitution’s prohibition of so-called religious tests doesn’t apply to immigration policy, which is why no one raised a fuss during the Cold War when the U.S. set aside visas specifically for Soviet Jews escaping religious persecution.
And to make all of this even worse, it turns out the lawsuit ruled on yesterday was brought by a foreign-born Muslim cleric with ties to the international terrorist underworld. More on that in a moment.
The legal proceeding arose out of President Trump’s Executive Order 13780 which would have temporarily prevented visas from being issued to individuals from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Syria to provide the government with an opportunity to implement Trump’s “extreme vetting” measures aimed at weeding out visa applicants who pose a threat to U.S. national security. The order was also to suspend refugee processing for 120 days. The new order differs from Trump’s previous, broader directive, Executive Order 13769, also enjoined by the courts, “in that it omitted Iraq from the list of affected countries, did not affect any current visa or green-card holders and spelled out a robust list of people who might be able to apply for exceptions,” according to a Washington Post summary.
To no one’s surprise, the judicial officer usurping the powers of both the executive and legislative branches of the government, Honolulu-based U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Kahala Watson, was appointed to his post by President Obama in 2013. Federal judges in Washington state and Maryland are also expected to rule on EO 13780 soon.
Watson issued a temporary restraining order against EO 13780, signed by Trump on March 6, and scheduled to take effect today, ruling that a lawsuit pursued by Hawaii and Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Ismail Elshikh was likely to succeed on religious discrimination grounds. (Watson’s ruling is available here.)
Elshikh serves as imam to the Muslim Association of Hawaii and “is a member of the North American Imam Federation (NAIF), a fringe Islamic organization that has a board and current leadership stacked with radical Islamic connections.”
“Given NAIF’s history it should come as no surprise that the end goal of this lawsuit is, ultimately, weakening American counter-terrorism or immigration security efforts,” said terrorism expert Kyle Shideler, director of the Threat Information Office at the Center for Security Policy.
Like the other judges who blocked the earlier iteration of EO 13780, Watson ignored federal law. According to 8 U.S. Code § 1182:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may … suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
Watson did what other judges did in the lawsuits over EO 13769, substituting his opinions for those of the current Commander-in-Chief, and weighing trivia and irrelevancies that aren’t supposed to be considered in this kind of case. Instead of granting due deference to the president’s conduct of national security policy and limiting himself to what lawyers call the four corners of the document at hand, the judge improperly noted statements made by the president and his adviser Rudy Giuliani to the prejudice of the Trump administration. He regurgitated the Left’s tedious argument that the new executive order was a so-called Muslim ban in disguise.
Watson found that “a reasonable, objective observer — enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance — would conclude that the Executive Order was issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion.”
The judge wrote:
When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms discussed above, and the questionable evidence supporting the Government’s national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs’ TRO. See Aziz, 2017 WL 580855, at * 10. Nationwide relief is appropriate in light of the likelihood of success on the Establishment Clause claim.
In a constitutional republic, judges aren’t supposed to arrogate to themselves powers belonging to other state actors. Doing so violates the separation of powers doctrine.
But Watson recognizes no boundaries to his authority. He ruled in effect that the president, despite being elected by the American people to safeguard the nation, can be second-guessed and is not competent to decide who gets in or doesn’t get in to the country. The matter, he held, is best decided by an unaccountable lifetime appointee who wears a black robe. In other words, elections don’t have consequences.
Besides, EO 13780, which replaced Trump’s previous order, is different but not dramatically different from actions President Obama took while in office. Obama’s Department of State carried out a similar six-month emergency processing pause regarding Iraqis in 2011 to allow flawed screening procedures to be reevaluated.
The move, which was more limited in scope than Trump’s actions, took place after two al-Qaeda-Iraq terrorists were discovered in 2009 posing as refugees in Bowling Green, Ky. Screening by the FBI, as well as the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, failed to flag the applications of Waad Ramadan Alwan and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi. Recalling his previous efforts to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Alwan quipped that “lunch and dinner would be an American.” The two men pled guilty to terrorism charges in 2013. Hammadi received a sentence of life imprisonment, while Alwan was sentenced to 40 years in prison to be followed by supervised release for the rest of his life.
President Obama also signed the Terrorist Prevention Act into law on Dec. 18, 2015, which singled out all seven nations identified in President Trump’s earlier directive as heightened security risks.
Even legendary weakling President Carter temporarily blocked Iranian nationals from entering the country around the time the Islamic Republic of Iran held Americans hostage from 1979 to early 1981. To give credit where it is due, Carter made it clear he understood federal law when he declared in April 1980 that the U.S. government:
Will invalidate all visas issued to Iranian citizens for future entry into the United States, effective today. We will not reissue visas, nor will we issue new visas, except for compelling and proven humanitarian reasons or where the national interest of our own country requires. This directive will be interpreted very strictly.
That’s the way a president is supposed to behave.