Federal Court Gives President Trump Another Loss on Immigration

By:  Bernard Wolfsdorf, Esq. and Joseph M. Barnett, Esq.

On Monday, February 13, 2017, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued a preliminary injunction, supported by a 22-page memorandum opinion, providing another blow to President Donald Trump’s poorly executed Executive Order.

The preliminary injunction forbids the U.S. federal government from enforcing the travel ban against any person who has a Virginia residence or is employed by or attends an educational institution administered by the Commonwealth of Virginia and who, as of January 27, 2017, was lawfully admitted for permanent residency, held a visa that would entitle the bearer for permanent residency upon admission, or held a valid work or student visa.

The court dismissed the U.S. government’s claim of lack of subject matter jurisdiction under the political question doctrine and noted that “when government action is alleged to conflict with the Constitution, it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.  It held that every presidential action must comply with the limits set by Congress’ delegation of power and the constraints of the Constitution, including the Bill of Rights.

The notable difference between this case and the one brought by the States of Washington and Minnesota is that the district court judge found an unconstitutional religious bias, in violation of the Establishment Clause in the First Amendment, at the heart of the travel ban based on the comments of President Trump, before and after the election, and his administration.    At this time, the U.S. government has not appealed the decision.

More information about challenges to President Trump’s Executive Order on immigration can be found here.

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