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Travel Ban Opponents Move To Challenge Trump's Latest Set Of Immigration Restrictions

The American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations that challenged President Trump's earlier travel bans say the new immigration order still amounts to a "Muslim ban" even though it includes two new countries that are not Muslim-majority nations.

Last updated on September 29, 2017, at 5:56 p.m. ET

Posted on September 29, 2017, at 5:21 p.m. ET

Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Immigrant rights and civil liberties groups that sued the Trump administration over the president's previous travel ban orders will seek to challenge the latest set of immigration restrictions.

In a letter filed on Friday in the US District Court for Maryland, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, and other organizations told the judge who presided over a challenge to President Donald Trump's second travel ban order that they would be filing an updated lawsuit.

Trump's latest directive "violates the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Constitution," they wrote.

The challengers said they will also be asking for an immediate court injunction to block enforcement of the new restrictions, which Trump signed on Sept. 24 and fully go into effect on Oct. 18.

Trump's new directive — styled as a "proclamation" which carries the same legal force as an executive order — bans immigrants and many nonimmigrants from seven countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. It also bans a class of Venezuelan government officials and their families traveling on certain nonimmigrant visas.

The administration said it chose those countries based on the failure of their governments to meet information-sharing requirements about immigration screening processes and travel document security. Somalia met the minimum requirements, according to administration officials, but was still included on the list because of the "threat environment" in that country.

A Justice Department spokesman said in a statement that, "The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously defend the President's inherent authority to keep this country safe."

In a change from the first two executive orders that Trump signed suspending immigration, the latest directive includes two non-Muslim-majority nations, North Korea and Venezuela. The administration also lifted travel restrictions on one country that was included in the earlier ban, Sudan. The administration has disputed that any of the president's orders on immigration, including the latest one, were rooted in anti-Muslim discrimination, but the challengers argue otherwise.

"President Trump’s newest travel ban is still a Muslim ban at its core, and it certainly engages in discrimination based on national origin, which is unlawful. Adding a few North Koreans and a tiny group of Venezuelan officials doesn’t paper over the original sin of the Muslim ban. We’ll see President Trump in court — again," ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement.

According to the letter filed by the challengers on Friday, the government doesn't object to the plaintiffs amending their earlier lawsuit to address the president's new proclamation, but will oppose the request for a preliminary injunction.

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