Trump travel ban upheld by Virginia judge, still blocked in other courts

Trump travel ban upheld by Virginia judge, still blocked in other courts

A federal judge in Virginia on Friday upheld President TrumpDonald John TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE's revised travel ban, delivering a small victory to the Trump administration as it seeks to strengthen its legal case for the executive order that has been blocked in other courts.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga, who sits on the Eastern District Court of Virginia in Alexandria, rebuffed Muslim activists' request to temporarily bar the executive order on the grounds that the ban, which blocks travel to the United States for travelers from six predominately Muslim countries, acts as a discriminatory ban on a particular religious group.

The order, Trenga wrote in his opinion, falls well within the president's authority over the country's foreign policy and national security.

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"The President has provided a detailed justification for the Order based on national security needs, and enjoining the operation of [executive order] would interfere with the President’s unique constitutional responsibilities to conduct international relations, provide for the national defense, and secure the nation," he wrote.

The ruling is welcome news for the Trump administration after a federal judge in Hawaii issued a ruling last week halting enforcement of the ban nationwide. The ban has also been put on hold by a federal judge in Maryland.

While Trenga's order does not overturn the previous rulings, it is likely to help strengthen the Justice Department's case in the appeals process.

After the judge in Hawaii issued the block, Trump vowed to appeal the decision up to the Supreme Court. The ruling in favor of the ban in Virginia creates a split among the lower courts, increasing the likelihood that the Supreme Court will review the case.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said her agency was pleased with ruling.

“The Department of Justice is pleased with the ruling," she said in a statement. "As the Court correctly explains, the President’s Executive Order falls well within his authority to safeguard the nation’s security.” 

Trump signed the revised travel ban order on March 6, after the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's injunction against his initial Jan. 27 executive action.

The first measure barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries — Syria, Iraq, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Somalia — from entering the U.S. for 90 days and shut down the country's refugee resettlement program for 120 days. That order received immediate backlash, in part because it failed to grant exceptions to visa and green card holders from the targeted countries.

The revised order removes Iraq from the list of countries and exempts visa and green card holders from the ban. But critics claim that the new order, like the first, amounts to a de facto ban on Muslims entering the country.

Lydia Wheeler contributed