Boston Judge Declines to Extend Order Blocking Trump Ban

  • Case is one of several filed over Trump’s executive order
  • Jan. 27 order barred travelers from seven Mideast nations

Protesters gather at the Mass. State House in Boston on Jan. 29, to protest President Donald Trump's executive order banning people from several predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country.

Photographer: Jessica Rinaldi/Boston Globe via Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s executive order banning entry to the U.S. to refugees and citizens of seven nations will take effect in Massachusetts on Sunday after a federal judge refused to extend a temporary ruling blocking its enforcement.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton on Friday dealt a setback to rights’ advocates who argued that not allowing into the U.S. people from the seven majority Muslim countries was unconstitutional. Trump had said it wasn’t a religious-based ban but intended to protect Americans from potential terrorist attacks by targeting countries with dangerous jihadist movements.

“The public interest in safety and security in this ever-more dangerous world is strong,” Gorton said in a 21-page ruling that also acknowledged the country’s “rich immigrant history.”

The decision contradicts those of federal judges in Alexandria, Virginia, and Brooklyn, New York, where the bans on enforcement of parts of Trump’s order were extended. A judge in Seattle is due to rule on a request to extend a nation-wide ban on the enforcement of parts of the order later.

The Massachusetts case, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of several travelers affected by the ban, is one of several that followed Trump’s Jan 27 order, which roiled global travel by barring entry to the U.S. of citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Individuals, organizations, politicians and some states called it unconstitutional, religious discrimination against Muslims.

ACLU Argument

At a hearing Friday, ACLU lawyer Matthew Segal argued the order should be extended to alleviate uncertainty among people attempting to travel to or from the U.S. Government lawyers said the order was unnecessary because no one was being detained.

“This court declines to encroach upon the ‘delicate policy judgment’ inherent in immigration decisions,” Gorton said.

Adriana Lafaille, an ACLU lawyer, didn’t immediately return a call for comment on the ruling.

Trump’s edict, signed without advance notice, threw airports across America into turmoil as travelers from the affected countries who were already en route to the U.S. learned upon deplaning that they couldn’t leave the airport. Some of those people were lawful U.S. residents holding so-called green cards and work visas. Some of the visitors were required to return to their point of origin as spontaneous protests erupted at international terminals.

The U.S. has provisionally revoked tens of thousands of visas of people from the seven countries. A provisional revocation means the U.S. has invalidated a visa for use to travel to the U.S., the state department said. The U.S. may restore the visa’s validity later without requiring a new application.

Harvard, MIT

Eight Boston-area schools filed a documents Friday in support of the immigration advocates. In the past week, the schools said, they had seen students stranded abroad and faculty members prevented from traveling to and from foreign countries. The schools are: Harvard University, Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston College, Brandeis University, Tufts University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“It is essential that our commitments to national security not unduly stifle the free flow of ideas and people that are critical to progress in a democratic society,” wrote lawyers for the schools. Without the ability of scholars and students to travel in and out of the U.S., academic achievement and the economic growth it generates are “profoundly at risk.”

Northeastern University has 250 students and 30 scholars from the seven affected countries, according to the document. Boston University had 97 students and 16 scholars; Harvard had 49 students and 62 scholars; and MIT had 47 students and 69 scholars.

The case is Loughghalam v. Trump, 17-cv-10154, U.S. District Court, Massachusetts (Boston).

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