(CN) – For the third time since President Donald Trump issued his first executive order banning entry into the United States by travelers from predominantly Muslim nations, the Ninth Circuit blocked the president’s efforts in a per curiam Christmas rebuke issued Friday.
Circuit Judges Michael Daly Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez did, however, tailor this preliminary injunction to conform to a bit of U.S. Supreme Court advice: limit it to “foreign travelers who have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”
“For the third time, we are called upon to assess the legality of the president’s efforts to bar over 150 million nationals of six Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States or being issued immigrant visas that they would ordinarily be qualified to receive. To do so, we must consider the statutory and constitutional limits of the president’s power to curtail entry of foreign nationals,” the panel wrote.
“Those powers, however, are not without limit. We conclude that the president’s issuance of the proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority,” the 77-page order continues.
The panel noted the president’s latest executive order fails because he did not satisfy a key prerequisite Congress attached to his suspension authority: he must make a legally sufficient finding that letting a particular person or group of people into the United States would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.”
“The proclamation once again conflicts with the Immigration and Nationality Act’s prohibition on nationality-based discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas,” the panel wrote. “Lastly, the president is without a separate source of constitutional authority to issue the proclamation.”
The panel, however, stayed its decision so the Trump administration can file the expected appeal with the Supreme Court.
Unlike its predecessors, the third version of Trump’s executive order seeks to block entry into the United States by citizens from eight nations, six of them predominately Muslim. Restrictions vary, but in most cases travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad, North Korea and Venezuela will be barred from working, studying or vacationing here.
The panel’s decision largely upholds findings by a Hawaii federal judge, who in October let the part of the ban that applies to travelers from North Korea and Venezuela stand.