Two sections of the March 6 executive order regarding US travel by nationals of certain countries and refugee admissions were enjoined pending further litigation.

On March 14, 2017, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson of the District of Hawaii issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking enforcement nationwide of two sections of US President Donald Trump’s March 6 executive order (EO) pending further litigation on the merits. The EO was scheduled to go into effect today at 12:01 am Eastern Daylight Time. Stating that the EO was “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose,” the decision temporarily enjoins two sections of the EO regarding the temporary suspension of entry into the United States for a period of 90 days by individuals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and the suspension of the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days. The court will soon schedule an expedited hearing to determine whether the TRO should be extended, and in the meantime the parties will submit briefing and hearing schedules to the court for approval.

In a separate decision, Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the District of Maryland found that the EO violated the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution and granted the plaintiffs’ request for a nationwide TRO. However, unlike the Hawaii decision, the Maryland court limited its ruling to Section 2(c) of the EO, which describes the 90-day suspension of entry for foreign nationals from the six enumerated countries. The plaintiffs had requested the court to enjoin the EO in its entirety.

These rulings mean that the “travel ban” and suspension of refugee admissions contained in the EO are blocked pending further proceedings. The US Department of State will continue to issue immigrant and nonimmigrant visas to individuals from the six affected countries, and the US Department of Homeland Security will continue to admit foreign nationals from the six designated countries and process applications for refugee status under current USRAP procedures.

For more detailed information about the contents of the EO and its potential impact on individuals and employers, please see our prior alert.