Hawaii Federal Judge Again Blocks National Security Efforts


Edward White

October 19, 2017

3 min read

National Security



The same Hawaii federal judge who blocked President Trump’s National Security Executive Order from going into effect has blocked the President’s recent Proclamation to begin enhanced vetting procedures of foreign nationals seeking entry into the United States. Judge Derrick Watson, appointed by President Obama, yesterday issued a temporary restraining order that prevents the full implementation of the Proclamation.

The Proclamation, issued on September 24, 2017, fulfilled the promise of President Trump’s March 6, 2017 National Security Executive Order. The March 6th Order, among other things, called for a global review by the Secretary of Homeland Security of nearly 200 countries to determine whether they provide sufficient information to us about their nationals seeking entry into our country. The Secretary was to report the findings to the President. During the review, there was supposed to be a 90-day suspension of entry into this country of nationals from six countries with terrorism concerns (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen).

The March 6th Executive Order was enjoined by the Hawaii judge and also by a Maryland federal judge. The two injunctions were upheld in part on appeal. Those injunctions were later partially stayed by the Supreme Court pending its review of the two cases.

Last week the Supreme Court dismissed its review of the Maryland case and ordered the appellate court’s decision to be vacated because the 90-day suspension period had expired. The Supreme Court may also dismiss its review of the Hawaii judge’s injunction of the March 6th Executive Order, as the remaining enjoined part of the Order is set to expire next week, which would render the case moot.

As a result of the global review, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security informed the President that eight countries (Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, North Korea, Venezuela, and Yemen) did not satisfy our security criteria.

After reviewing the information and consulting within the Executive Branch, the President issued the Proclamation, which imposes immigration restrictions on nationals from those countries until the countries comply with our security criteria.

The Hawaii judge determined in part that the President did not provide sufficient findings to support the Proclamation. This ruling is in spite of the broad constitutional and statutory authority the President has to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens when he determines it is in our country’s best interest, especially, when, as here, the President is basing that determination on extensive evidence gathered during the global review.

The Hawaii judge’s order, if upheld, threatens this President’s ability, as well as that of all future Presidents, from taking steps to protect our national security.

The Hawaii judge’s ruling deals with restrictions imposed on nationals from Chad, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The judge did not address the restrictions on North Korean and Venezuelan nationals. The order is temporary in nature and the judge will decide soon whether to extend the injunction.

This case will likely end up at the court of appeals and then at the Supreme Court. The ACLJ stands ready to file briefs in support of the Proclamation as we did in support of the Executive Order.

We will continue to keep you posted about this case as well as about the other important work of the ACLJ.