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Virginia judge gives OK to new Trump travel ban

By Rachel Weiner Washington Post

A federal judge in Virginia on Friday declined to issue another injunction against President Donald Trump’s second travel ban.

The ruling by Anthony Trenga has no immediate impact, as judges in Hawaii and Maryland have already issued nationwide orders blocking Trump’s second attempt to limit travel from several majority-Muslim countries. However, the ruling is a small victory for an administration that has been battered in court.

During a March 21 hearing on the case in federal court in Alexandria, Trenga asked whether Trump’s past statements about banning Muslims would forever outweigh “enormous deference” a president is supposed to receive in national security matters.

In his decision, he decided they did not.

“The Court cannot conclude for the purposes of the Motion that these statements, together with the President’s past statements, have effectively disqualified him from exercising his lawful presidential authority,” the judge wrote.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman said officials there were pleased with the decision.

“As the Court correctly explains, the President’s Executive Order falls well within his authority to safeguard the nation’s security,” Flores said in a statement.

On the other side of the argument, Gadeir Abbas, an attorney representing the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the ruling was disappointing but had little practical significance.

“It really doesn’t change much for us,” he said. “While we disagree with the decision, it doesn’t affect any of the other injunctions that have been put in place, and it allows us now to take the next step which is to get the full hearing before the Fourth Circuit.”

The Justice Department has already appealed the Maryland judge’s decision blocking the ban to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. An appeal of Trenga’s ruling would go to the same court, where the two cases could be combined.

Unlike Trump’s first travel ban, Trenga concluded, the newer order is free of explicit religious discrimination, offers a national security rationale for the six specific countries included, and offers exceptions in the form of waivers.

“Were it issued by an executive other than the executive who made those previous statements, it wouldn’t be challenged in this way,” Trenga said during the Tuesday hearing.

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