Now that President Donald Trump has tweaked his travel ban to exclude Green Card holders, a federal judge in Detroit has issued an order that forces the White House to stick to what it has promised.
In a 2-page order, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts has issued an injunction permanently blocking the federal government from applying Trump's travel ban to permanent residents, commonly known as green card holders.
This clears the way for any green card holders to be allowed entry into the U.S. as many have claimed they've been trapped overseas in the wake of Trump's executive order, which temporarily bans travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority nations and indefinitely blocks all Syrian refugees from coming here.
Roberts noted in her order that her ruling follows a phone call with White House officials who “pointed out” that the Trump administration issued a memo on Feb. 1 clarifying that the travel ban does not a apply to permanent residents.
Based on the clarification, Roberts on Thursday ordered that the U.S. is“permanently enjoined” from applying the ban “against lawful permanent residents,” including four Wayne County residents who sued over the ban. She noted, however, that her order does not apply to three other plaintiffs who challenged Trump’s ban in the same lawsuit, including:
- An immigrant who was issued a visa to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident.
- A United States citizen whose 9-year-old old son was denied a visa to join his family in the United States.
- The Arab American Civil Rights League, whose members allege they have been adversely affected by the executive order.
ACRL Chairman Nasser Beydoun saw Roberts' order as a major boost to the immigration-rights movement, saying it now forces the Trump Administration to exempt green card holders from the travel ban and prevent it from potentially trying to slip this group back under the order in the future.
For Beydoun, the White House's tweaking of the travel ban wasn't reassuring, he said, noting he wasn't convinced that the Trump administration would adhere to its promise to exempt green card holders from the ban.
"They say that, but in practice, we haven't seen it. So what's happening is green card holders are still being turned back," said Beydoun, stressing Roberts' order now clarifies that that can't happen anymore. "This is nationwide. It’s not just Detroit or the Eastern District of Michigan."
Bedoun said the fight is far from over. The group's next step is to exempt visa holders and immigrants who had applications approved but were put on hold in light of the executive order.
"This is just one process," he said. "We’re going to continue to fight this thing one step at a time."
Beydoun said Roberts' order "adds more weight to the case" and sends this message: "An attack o the Constitution and on legal immigration is not going to be tolerated."
Roberts, meanwhile, plans to address the claims of the other plaintiffs after further briefing.
At issue is Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order, which temporarily banned travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries and blocks all Syrian refugees from entering the country indefinitely.
Five days later, the White House tweaked the order, stating: “I understand that there has been reasonable uncertainty about whether those provisions apply to lawful permanent residents of the United Sates. Accordingly, to remove any confusion, I now clarify that (the order) does not apply to such individuals,” wrote Donald F. McGahn II, counsel to the president.
Two days before the clarification, however, a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of the ban.
The lead plaintiff, the Arab American Civil Rights League, alleges the order is unconstitutional in that it discriminates against Muslims and green card holders who have a legal right to be here.
"As lawful permanent residents of the United States, plaintiffs are attempting to come to the Untied States to be with their family. They have been left in limbo while being denied the ability to travel to the Untied States for no reason other than the discriminatory and unconstitutional (executive order)," the lawsuit states.