- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A federal judge in Maryland added a new legal blockade to President Trump’s travel ban early Wednesday, ruling that the White House’s third attempt at “extreme vetting” is still poisoned by the president’s campaign-season “religious animus” toward Muslims.

The ruling by Judge Theodore D. Chuang, an Obama appointee to the bench, came just hours after another Obama-appointed judge in Hawaii issued a similar injunction.

Both judges have said Mr. Trump’s attempt to severely curtail admission of visitors and would-be immigrants from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen is likely illegal.

They have, however, allowed restrictions to go into effect for North Korea and Venezuela, two non-Muslim countries.

Judge Chuang, like his Hawaii colleague, had ruled previous versions of the travel ban illegal, and said little has changed in Mr. Trump’s effort to revive the policy with an updated and more supported plan, which the president laid out in a proclamation last month.

“The proclamation’s ban generally resembles President Trump’s earlier description of the Muslim ban,” Judge Chuang wrote in his 91-page ruling.

He said the fact that the current list of eight countries subject to severe restrictions is similar to the previous list of six suggests little has changed.

The earlier ban applied to Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The new list, which came after months of study by the Homeland Security and State departments of nearly 200 countries’ level of cooperation in information-sharing, drops Sudan and adds Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

The ruling is likely to be quickly appealed.

Administration officials were already working on their appeal of the Hawaii ruling.

The Supreme Court had been slated to hear arguments on the earlier version of the travel ban last week, but after Mr. Trump’s revisions in September they called off the hearing, saying the lower courts needed to evaluate the new policy.

While Tuesday’s ruling affects the country-specific travel ban, another part of the original executive order — a 120-pause on refugee admissions — remains mostly in effect, with some court-ordered exceptions.

The 120-day period expires at the end of this month, and analysts are waiting to see whether Mr. Trump tries to extend the pause. He’s already slashed the overall refugee target from 110,000 people in 2017 to 45,000 in 2018.

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