Hawaii judge blocks Trump’s travel ban for second time

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump’s travel ban has been blocked for a second time just hours before it was scheduled to go into effect.

A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday temporarily blocked the revised travel ban against citizens from six Muslim-majority nations. The ban was due to go into effect Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson made the ruling in a lawsuit in which Hawaii argued that the revised order would harm its Muslim population, its tourism industry and its universities’ ability to recruit foreign students.

In his ruling, Watson cited interviews and statements by Trump and his advisers talking about a “Muslim ban”’ and said Hawaii had met the burden to justify a restraining order by showing that “irreparable injury is likely if the requested relief is not issued” and that the state had “a strong likelihood of success on the merits.”

The Hawaii ruling came as two other federal judges considered similar actions against Trump’s executive order. A federal judge in Maryland was expected to rule before the end of the day following a morning hearing. The federal judge in Washington state who suspended the first travel ban was hearing arguments in a court session that began at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

The White House was expected to comment after all three rulings.

Critics cheered the Hawaii judge’s ruling halting what they dub a Muslim ban.

“As long as this hateful policy remains, it will continue to be fought in courts while thousands of people and families are trapped in uncertainty,” said Margaret Huang, executive director Amnesty International USA. “This decision against the ban tells us what we already know: this is anti-Muslim bigotry falsely packaged as security. Hatred won’t make us safe. The ban must be repealed now.”

“This is yet another major blow against the Trump administration and a huge victory for our Constitution,” said Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “The United States of America does not discriminate based on religion. Period.”

Last week, Trump reissued his executive order limiting travel to the United States by citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The new order addressed at least some of the legal problems that led to the blocking of the original order, including clarifying that it wouldn’t apply to permanent U.S. residents and would not give special consideration to Christians. But other problems remained.

Farhana Khera, president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, which filed an amicus brief in the Hawaii case, said the ban has encouraged discrimination against Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim.

“People with no connection to the banned countries are being stopped and searched at airports and having their trusted traveler status revoked just for being a Muslim, looking like a Muslim, or having a name that sounds Muslim,” Khera said. “These policies and practices are part of a concerted effort by the Trump administration to demonize and marginalize Muslim, Latino and other immigrant communities.”

The original order on Jan. 27 banned admissions to the United States for 90 days of citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The new order no longer included Iraq after leaders agreed to more vetting conditions but it freezes for 90 days the entry of anyone from the six remaining countries who does not already have a valid visa. It also puts a 120-day moratorium on refugee admissions from other countries.

The White House said other countries could be excluded later if they, too, took proactive vetting steps.

Trump’s initial order created chaos at U.S. airports as immigration and customs agents initially blocked the entry of all citizens from the seven countries, including those who had lived in the United States for years.

The release of the second ban ended weeks of haggling between Homeland Security and Justice department officials over whether to revoke the visas of some 60,000 to 100,000 people from the seven countries. Those visas were reinstated after the Seattle judge blocked the initial executive order.