Trump travel ban: US judge blocks new executive order.
A Federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, hours before it was due to begin at midnight on Thursday.
US District Judge Derrick Watson cited “questionable evidence” in the government’s argument that the ban was a matter of national security.
President Trump described the ruling as “unprecedented judicial overreach”.
The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.
Mr Trump insists the move is to stop terrorists from entering the US but critics say it is discriminatory.
An earlier version of the order, issued in late January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.
Speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday evening, Mr Trump said the ruling in Hawaii made the US “look weak”. He said he would take the case “as far as it needs to go” including to the Supreme Court, adding: “We’re going to win.”
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Lawyers had argued that the ban would violate the US constitution by discriminating against people on the grounds of their national origin.
The state also said the ban would harm tourism and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers in the United States.
Donald Trump’s first travel ban was suspended because it likely violated the due process rights of individuals with valid residency papers and visas. The battle over whether it imposed an unconstitutional religious test on certain immigrants was put off until another day. That day has arrived.
In its decision, the federal court in Hawaii used Mr Trump’s own words – and the words of his advisers – against him. The text of the executive order, Judge Derrick Watson held, could not be separated from the context of the recent presidential campaign, “Muslim ban” rhetoric and all.
An order that discriminates against some Muslims, he continued, is just as legally deficient as one that discriminates against them all.
Now it’s back to the drawing board for the Trump administration or – perhaps an even gloomier prospect – back to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, which ruled against the president on the original ban just last month.
After Mr Trump’s previous adverse legal ruling, he angrily tweeted “We’ll see you in court.” Although it took a new travel order to get there, it turns out he was right.
Trump decried the ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as “the bad, the sad news.”
“The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one,” Trump said, as the crowd booed the news.
“This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach,” he added, before pledging to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.
The practical effect of the ruling — which applies nationwide — is that travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees will be able to travel to the US.
Unlike the previous executive order, the new one removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted those with green cards and visas and removed a provision that arguably prioritizes certain religious minorities.
The new ban was announced earlier this month and was set to take effect Thursday.
It would have banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.
“The illogical of the Government’s contentions is palpable.
The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed,” Watson wrote.
“Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries,” Watson added.
“It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.”
“It would therefore be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam,” Watson added. “Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not.”
“When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms … and the questionable evidence supporting the Government’s national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs’ (request to block the new order),” Watson wrote.
The Justice Department said it will defend the new travel ban.
“The Department of Justice strongly disagrees with the federal district court’s ruling, which is flawed both in reasoning and in scope. The President’s Executive Order falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our Nation’s security, and the Department will continue to defend this Executive Order in the courts,” DOJ said in a statement Wednesday night.