Washington: A US federal judge in Hawaii has indefinitely extended the suspension of President Donald Trump's new travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries which aims to prevent terrorists from entering America. The US District Judge Derrick Watson blocked the core provision of the revised executive order two weeks ago arguing that it violated Establishment Clause of the Constitution by disfavouring Muslims.
"The court concludes that on the record before it, plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim," Watson wrote in his order on Wednesday. Watson's earlier decision, issued on 15 March, was only a limited freeze of the executive order through a temporary restraining order.
As a result, the plaintiffs asked the judge to convert that decision into a longer-term preliminary injunction and Watson agreed on Wednesday and the president's 90-day ban on foreign nationals from six Muslim-majority countries and the 120-ban on all refugees entering the country are now blocked indefinitely unless any higher court changes Watson's order or the state's lawsuit is otherwise resolved.
The six Muslim-majority countries are Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq was on the first list but was removed in the revised executive order. One of the practical implications of Wednesday's decision is that the Justice Department may now immediately appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, should it choose to do so. But how long it will take for any appeals to be completed remains unclear, according to a CNN report.
The reasoning in Watson's decision largely follows his decision from two weeks ago, which used Supreme Court precedent to conclude that Donald Trump's statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign speak to the constitutionality of the executive order. 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 is arguing that the order, which restricts ttravellers and refugees from six Muslim-majority countries, discriminated against Muslims in violation of the US
Constitution. In a lawsuit, the US state of Hawaii also says the ban would harm tourism and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers. An earlier version of Trump's executive order, issued in late January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.
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Updated Date: Mar 30, 2017 15:11:44 IST