A look at latest ruling on Trump administration travel ban

Published 9:08 am Thursday, March 30, 2017

HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii who temporarily blocked President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban hours before it was set to take effect issued a longer-lasting order Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson held a hearing Wednesday on Hawaii’s request to extend his temporary hold. Several hours later, he issued a 24-page order blocking the government from suspending new visas for travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and from halting the U.S. refugee program.

Donald Trump

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin argued that even though the revised ban has more neutral language, the implied intent remains. He likened it to a neon sign flashing “Muslim Ban,” which the government hasn’t turned off.

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Chad Readler, a Department of Justice attorney defending Trump’s executive order, told the judge via telephone that Hawaii hasn’t shown how it is harmed by various provisions.

Watson disagreed.

Here’s a look at Watson’s ruling and what comes next:

The previous ruling

This month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from six countries and freezing the nation’s refugee program. The ruling came just hours before the ban was to take effect.

Watson, nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama in 2012, agreed with Hawaii that the ban would hurt the state’s tourism-dependent economy and that it discriminates based on nationality and religion.

Trump called the ruling an example of “unprecedented judicial overreach.”

The next day, a judge in Maryland also blocked the six-nation travel ban but said it wasn’t clear that the suspension of the refugee program was similarly motivated by religious bias.

The federal government appealed the Maryland ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and sought to narrow the Hawaii ruling.

The latest ruling

Like his temporary order, Watson’s new order notes that Hawaii has shown the state’s universities and tourism industry will suffer from the ban. A plaintiff in Hawaii’s lawsuit, the imam of a Honolulu mosque, will be harmed if the ban is enforced, Watson said: “These injuries have already occurred and will continue to occur if the Executive Order is implemented and enforced; the injuries are neither contingent nor speculative.”

Government attorneys have tried to convince the judge not to consider comments Trump has made about the travel ban. Chin told The Associated Press today that a notable part of the ruling was that the court took into account not just one or two comments, but 20 to 25 statements made by Trump the candidate, Trump the president and his surrogates.

“The court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has,” Watson wrote.

Watson also refused to narrow his ruling to only apply to the six-nation ban, as the government requested.

The ruling won’t be suspended if the government appeals, Watson said.

“Enforcement of these provisions in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas is prohibited, pending further orders from this court,” he wrote.