Hours before President Donald Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban was to take effect, a federal judge froze the executive order that many healthcare leaders said would have a detrimental impact on the healthcare field.
A federal judge in Hawaii froze the attempt to ban travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, and a second judge in Maryland separately blocked the order’s core provision, according to The New York Times. Trump, speaking at a rally in Nashville, vowed to fight the court action, saying he was prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary.
"The danger is clear, the law is clear, the need for my executive order is clear,” said Trump, who issued the travel ban calling it critical for national security.
The revised travel ban, slated to take effect at 12:01 a.m. today, reduced the list of countries affected to six—removing Iraq, while keeping Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Syria. It also applied only to those seeking new visas.
However, if the president hoped the more narrow ban would be more defensible in court, he was wrong. The Times said Judge Derrick K. Watson, of Federal District Court in Honolulu, wrote that a “reasonable, objective observer” would view even the new order as “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.”
Both the original and revised travel ban created concerns among healthcare groups that it would restrict travel of foreign-born doctors, medical students and patients seeking care in the U.S. Of particular concern was that the ban would leave hundreds of applicants to residency programs at U.S. hospitals in limbo in light of tomorrow’s Match Day.
“These training programs still do not know if applicants under consideration from one of the six affected countries will be able to obtain visas and travel to the U.S.,” said the American Medical Association’s President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D., this week, prior to the court action. He also worried about delays to patient care and how the ban will affect the exchange of medical and scientific knowledge.
The unknowns in the visa process for foreign medical graduates has put additional pressure on both residency programs and applicants from those six countries who are unsure whether they will be able to come to the U.S. to start training July 1, according to an NPR report.