In this occasional series, we will bring you up to speed on the biggest national security stories of the week.
Two different federal judges this week blocked President Trump from enforcing the latest version of his travel ban, which would have barred various travelers and immigrants from eight different countries from entering the U.S.
The cases are sure to be appealed, setting up yet another legal showdown on Trump's power when it comes to immigration policy. But for now, here is what the judges' rulings mean for the Trump administration, and for those who might have otherwise been affected by the ban.
What happens to people on the banned list now?
If the Trump administration had implemented the measure as it wanted, various types of immigrants and travelers from Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad, Somalia, North Korea and Venezuela would have been stopped from coming to the U.S. Now — for all except those from North Korea and Venezuela — they won't be.
After a federal judge in Hawaii first stopped the Trump administration from implementing the measure in six of the eight countries, the State Department told embassies and consulates across the globe to resume regular processing of visas.
Though the judges' orders were not applied to travelers from Venezuela and North Korea, that is of little consequence. The ban only applies to certain Venezuelan government officials, and very few people from North Korea actually travel to the U.S. each year.
Why did the judges block it?
The first judge to block the ban, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii, did so because, in his view, Trump had exceeded the power that Congress has given the president to set entry restrictions. Watson wrote that the order “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in a way that is opposed to federal law and that the president had not adequately found that allowing the entry of those he wanted to ban would be “detrimental” to U.S. interests.
The second judge to block the ban did so for simpler reasons. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang in Maryland ruled that the president's comments on the campaign trail and on Twitter showed he was essentially implementing a Muslim ban, and that was unconstitutional.
What is the Trump administration arguing?
The Trump administration has long argued that the entry restrictions do not amount to a Muslim ban and that they are instead necessary to protect national security. The administration says the latest iteration, Trump's third attempt at a travel ban, was inked only after an extensive process in which U.S. officials determined a baseline of information needed to vet travelers from other countries, then negotiated with foreign counterparts to make sure they were getting it. Those that either couldn't or wouldn't provide the information were put on the banned list.
What can the Trump administration do?
The Trump administration can appeal each judge's ruling, and it is very likely the matter ultimately ends up in the Supreme Court. To get the ban fully back into effect, the administration would have to run the table, winning in two appellate courts that have ruled against prior iterations of the Trump travel ban. But the Supreme Court has seemed more sympathetic to the measure, and legal analysts say the latest iteration of the ban is the most likely to withstand legal challenges in court.
What does this mean for Trump?
The rulings are undoubtedly another political loss for Trump, who has been repeatedly stymied from implementing one of his signature policy initiatives and has once again seen his own words weaponized against him. He might win in the long run, but for now, a huge group of people he wants kept out of the U.S. will be able to come in.
A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the countries whose citizens remain barred from traveling to the United States under the Trump travel ban. The two countries are North Korea and Venezuela, not North Korea and Syria. The post has been corrected and updated.