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Trump travel ban was halted because it would cause "irreparable injury" if it went ahead

A federal court in Hawaii halted the revised executive order yesterday.
Mar 16th 2017, 8:46 AM 12,111 55

LAST NIGHT, A federal court in Hawaii halted Donald Trump’s revised executive order temporarily closing US borders to refugees and nationals from six Muslim-majority countries, dealing the president a humiliating defeat.

The ruling means a nationwide freeze on enforcement of a ban on entry by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. It also halts a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions program.

US District Judge Derrick Watson ruled that the state of Hawaii, in its legal challenge, had established a strong likelihood that the ban would cause “irreparable injury” were it to go ahead.

Trump quickly vowed to fight the “flawed” ruling all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, describing it as “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

“The law in the constitution gave the president the power to suspend immigration when he deems it to be in the national interest of our country,” he said at a speech in Nashville, Tennessee, adding:

We are going to win.

The Hawaii court said however it would not stay its decision in the event of an appeal, meaning the ban cannot go ahead as planned today regardless of any action the White House takes.

The court in Honolulu was the first to rule in a trio of legal challenges against the ban, which had been set to go into effect at midnight.

A federal court in Seattle later granted a separate emergency motion from Washington and Oregon states for a “14-day temporary restraining order,” also citing “irreparable harm.”

The arguments advanced against the ban by the two northwestern states are “likely to succeed,” court documents read.

The Seattle restraining order has no practical effect beyond what had already been set in motion in Hawaii.

Muslim ban?

Trump Travel Ban Lawsuits Hawaii attorney general Douglas Chin, from left, with Hawaii Gov. David Ige and Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum. Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Trump administration’s wide-ranging initial travel restrictions imposed on 27 January were slapped down by the federal courts, after sparking a legal, political and logistical furore.

Trump signed a revised ban behind closed doors on 6 March with a reduced scope, exempting Iraqis and permanent US residents but maintaining the temporary ban on the other six countries and refugees.

The White House said those six countries were targeted because their screening and information capabilities could not meet US security requirements.

Judge Watson however rejected the White House claim that the order wasn’t a Muslim ban, ruling that it would not be a leap “to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam” given their Muslim populations ranging from 90.7% to 99.8%.

The judge made reference to several examples of Trump explicitly framing proposed action on immigration in religious language, including a March 2016 interview during which the then president-elect said: “I think Islam hates us.”

“Mr Trump was asked, ‘Is there a war between the West and radical Islam, or between the West and Islam itself?’ He replied: ‘It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who,’” the judge added.

In Greenbelt, Maryland, Judge Theodore Chuang was expected to rule on a separate complaint filed by advocacy groups claiming that the amended order discriminates against Muslims.

“In his mind, the danger of Muslims and the danger of refugees is all combined danger,” Omar Jadwat, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, said of the president.

The group said it was “pleased but not surprised” by the Hawaii ruling, while New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hailed the decision as “yet another victory for the Constitution and the rule of law.”

The first version of Trump’s order triggered protests at home and abroad as well as chaos at US airports as people were detained upon arrival and either held for hours or sent back to where they came from.

Coast to coast

Trump Travel Ban Lawsuits Attorney General Bob Ferguson, right, stands with members of his staff, including Solicitor General Noah Purcell, center, and Civil Rights Unit Chief Colleen Melody, second left. Source: Elaine Thompson

The Trump administration narrowed the restrictions in its revised order to try to ensure it would be unassailable.

“This order doesn’t draw any religious distinction at all,” said Jeffrey Wall, a government attorney.

Questioned about Trump’s tweets and statements during the presidential campaign in which he promised to enact a “Muslim ban,” Wall said: “There is a difference between a president and a candidate.”

But critics say the new order essentially remains a ban on Muslims coming to the United States, and therefore unconstitutional because it singles out followers of a certain religion for discrimination.

Since September 11, 2001, the worst attacks in the United States have been committed either by Americans or by people from countries not on the Trump travel ban list.

Critics also argue that it will have a very negative effect on schools, universities and the business world, mainly the high tech sector, which employs many highly skilled immigrants.

The state of Washington, joined by five other states, filed a complaint on Monday with the same Seattle judge who stayed Trump’s original travel ban in February.

- © AFP, 2017

Read: Judge blocks Donald Trump’s new travel ban hours before it comes into effect>

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