President Donald Trump was barred from enforcing his revised travel ban on six mostly Muslim nations while he defends it in a court battle that will stretch for months, perhaps years.
While Trump administration tailored the latest version to shed all religious references, a Honolulu federal judge found that the president’s campaign rhetoric, including calls for a Muslim ban and registry, point toward discriminatory intentions. The Justice Department will probably appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the same court that upheld the order stopping Trump’s original travel order.
U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson turned an earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit brought by the state of Hawaii challenging Trump's travel directive as unconstitutional religious discrimination.
Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in a bid to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February. Trump has said the travel ban is needed for national security.
Hawaii and other opponents of the ban claim that the motivation behind it is based on religion and Trump's election campaign promise of "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."
Seeking the longer-lasting hold, state Attorney General Douglas Chin argued that the ban's implied message is like a "neon sign flashing 'Muslim ban, Muslim ban'" that the government didn't bother to turn off.
The Department of Justice had said that if Watson grants the request, he should narrow the ruling to cover only the part of Trump's executive order that suspends new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries.
Department of Justice attorney Chad Readler said a freeze on the U.S. refugee program had no effect on Hawaii.
Hawaii says the policy discriminates against Muslims and hurts the state's economy, while the government says it falls within the president's power to protect national security.
Readler argued Hawaii has only made generalized concerns about effects to students and tourism. He says suspending the refugee program has no impact on Hawaii.
But s Chin said language in the revised ban is like a "neon sign flashing 'Muslim Ban, Muslim Ban.'" And Chin says no one in the government has bothered to turn it off.
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