The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Tuesday challenging President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order [executive order] restricting immigration. The ACLU claims [press release] that the ban is unconstitutional under the First Amendment prohibition on government establishment of religion and the Fifth Amendment [text] guarantee of equal treatment under the law. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the president have argued [JURIST report] that the order does not fall under the First Amendment as it does not specify religion, but country. Furthermore, the Trump administration has stated that the Fifth Amendment does not apply as the government has no obligation to foreigners and non-US residents and citizens. In response, the ACLU and other advocates for argue that the order amounts to a Muslim ban that is reminiscent of when the US turned away Jewish refugees that were fleeing Germany before World War 2.
Trump signed the executive order [JURIST op-ed] in late January. Only a day later, a judge for the Eastern District of New York issued an emergency stay [JURIST report], temporarily preventing execution of the law, until the question of whether it applied to valid visa holders could be resolved. That issue was resolved by a district judge in Michigan, who ordered [JURIST report] that the travel ban could not be applied to legal citizens, including those holding visas. On Friday the US District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a stay [JURIST report] of Trump’s order. Following appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied [JURIST report] the Trump Administration’s emergency motion [text, PDF] to reinstate the immigration restrictions, thereby suspending the order until arguments have been heard. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments [JURIST report] Tuesday on whether the travel ban should be reinstated, and a ruling is expected this week.