US judge puts Trump travel ban on hold

2017-03-16 05:42
US president Donald Trump (File, Evan Vucci, AP)

US president Donald Trump (File, Evan Vucci, AP)

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Honolulu - For the second time, a federal court on Wednesday blocked US President Donald Trump's efforts to freeze immigration by refugees and citizens of some predominantly Muslim nations, putting the president's revised travel ban on hold just hours before it was to take effect.

This time, the ruling came from a judge in Hawaii who rejected the government's claims that the travel ban is about national security, not discrimination. US District Judge Derrick Watson also said Hawaii would suffer financially if the executive order constricted the flow of students and tourists to the state, and that Hawaii was likely to succeed on a claim that the ban violates First Amendment protections against religious discrimination.

Watson criticised what he called the "illogic" of the government's arguments and cited "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" behind the travel ban. He also noted that while courts should not examine the "veiled psyche" and "secret motives" of government decision-makers, "the remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry".

"For instance, there is nothing 'veiled' about this press release: 'Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,'" Watson wrote, referring to a statement Trump issued as a candidate.

'Unprecedented judicial overreach'

Trump called the ruling an example of "unprecedented judicial overreach" and said his administration would appeal it to the US Supreme Court. He also called his new travel ban a watered-down version of the first one, which he said he wished he could implement.

"We're going to win. We're going to keep our citizens safe," the president said at a rally in Nashville. "The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear."

The judge issued his 43-page ruling less than two hours after hearing Hawaii's request for a temporary restraining order to stop the ban from being put into practice.

The hearing was one of three held on Wednesday in federal courts around the country. US District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who blocked the initial travel ban last month, did not immediately rule on a request from an immigrant-rights group to block the revised version. Neither was there a ruling from US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland in a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups.

In all, more than half a dozen states are trying to stop the ban. A case brought by Washington state argues that the new order harms residents, universities and businesses, especially tech companies such as Washington state-based Microsoft and Amazon, which rely on foreign workers. California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon have joined the claim.

Trump's initial travel ban, issued on a Friday in late January, brought chaos and protests to airports around the country as travelers from seven nations — Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen — were barred from entering even if they had prior permission to come to the US The State Department canceled up to 60 000 visas, but later reversed that decision.


Read more on:    donald trump  |  us

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