Critics of President Trump’s immigration policy celebrated Washington state’s victory Friday, after a federal judge granted a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), immediately halting implementation of key elements of the executive order’s travel ban.
It’s a win for tech companies Expedia, Amazon and Microsoft, who helped the state make its case by speaking out about the negative impact on their businesses and employees.
But the TRO does not address a section of the executive order that could have even greater implications for the country down the line.
The order, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” includes a section that directs the heads of the FBI, State Department, National Intelligence and Homeland Security to create a “uniform screening standard and procedure” as part of the “adjudication process for immigration benefits.”
Politico explains, “In immigration parlance, ‘immigration benefits’ refers to any permission granted a foreign visitor, from full-scale refugee resettlement to a passport stamp for tourists visiting Disneyland.”
For example, the order says, the new system could include “a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest.”
Other possibilities could include “in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; (and) a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be.”
If interpreted broadly, the new system could mean all foreign nationals — including tourists, diplomats, and asylum-seekers — would be subject to these types of screening procedures when attempting to cross U.S. borders.
That would have big implications for Expedia, in particular. The Bellevue, Wash.-based online travel giant filed a brief in support of the Washington attorney general’s case against the federal government.
Politico spoke with immigration attorneys and experts across the political spectrum to try to make sense of the one-size-fits-all approach outlined in the order. Implementing uniform screening would require vast resources and would likely be a logistical nightmare, they said. It would also cripple tourism and business travel, according to the report.
The section (Section 4 of the executive order) was not among those explicitly blocked by U.S. District Judge James Robart’s order granting Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the U.S. government. Section 4 wasn’t among those targeted by the AG’s complaint.
The executive order instructs the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to provide a 60-day, 100-day, and 200-day report to the president, detailing their progress toward building a new screening system.
There is no clear timeline for implementing the new procedures beyond that.
More coverage of Washington State v. Trump…
- White House: DOJ to seek emergency stay after Seattle contingent blocks immigration order; Trump calls ruling ‘ridiculous’
- Washington AG explains how Amazon, Expedia, and Microsoft influenced crucial victory over Trump
- Watch: Washington state AG says, ‘No one is above the law — not even the president’
- At Seattle hearing, federal judge issues restraining order to halt Trump’s immigration ban nationwide