Hawaii judge blocks latest Trump travel ban with hours to spare
Derrick Watson grants states request to temporarily prevent federal enforcement of the most recent batch of restrictions
A judge in Hawaii has blocked the latest version of the Trump administration travel ban just hours before it was set to take effect, saying that it suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.
Derrick Watson, a US district judge, on Tuesday granted Hawaiis request to temporarily block the federal government from enforcing the policy. It was supposed to take effect at midnight EDT Wednesday.
Hawaii argues the updated ban is a continuation of Donald Trumps promise to exclude Muslims from the United States.
The White House blasted the temporary ruling as dangerously flawed while vowing to appeal it, stating the court order undercuts the presidents efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the United States.
The Department of Justice will vigorously defend the presidents lawful action, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. These restrictions are vital to ensuring that foreign nations comply with the minimum security standards required for the integrity of our immigration system and the security of our nation.
We are therefore confident that the judiciary will ultimately uphold the presidents lawful and necessary action and swiftly restore its vital protections for the safety of the American people.
Other courts are weighing challenges to the policy. In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions in the presidents latest proclamation.
Watson had previously blocked Trumps last travel ban in March. In a 40-page ruling on Tuesday, Watson said Hawaii was likely to succeed in proving that Trumps latest travel ban violates federal immigration law.
The policy lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, Watson wrote.
The issue could head to the supreme court, where justices canceled a hearing previously scheduled for 10 October concerning an earlier version of the travel ban. The nations highest court dismissed that case when the Trump administration announced its new restrictions, concluding that the challenge to the previous ban was effectively moot.
But Hawaiis ruling sets the stage once more for the supreme court to take up the presidents authority to enforce such sweeping travel restrictions.
The justice department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump had promised as a candidate a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.
Since taking office, Trump has instead sought to bar immigrants from certain Muslim-majority countries and to temporarily suspend the US refugee program entirely. Administration officials privately acknowledged the previous iterations of the travel ban were perceived to be motivated by religious affiliation and suggested additional countries had been added to the list in part so that critics could no longer refer to the policy as a Muslim ban.
Refugees and civil rights groups hailed the latest court ruling as a victory to people across the world fleeing persecution and violence in war-torn countries.
Its a blow to the Trump administrations attempts to tear families apart and block people fleeing horrific violence from gaining safety, Naureen Shah, the senior director of campaigns at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.
This cruel and bigoted ban remains as senseless as ever, she added. President Trump cannot continue to demonize people based on where they come from or how they worship.
The Trump administration must end this legal battle and abandon the Muslim ban.