Hawaii Federal Judge Derrick Watson extended his order blocking President Trump’s travel ban to six Muslim majority countries Wednesday, as the state’s attorney general denounced the executive order as a “Muslim ban”.
Hawaii’s attorney general Douglas Chin told the judge the controversial measure issued by President Trump on January 27 and then revised on March 6 was like a “neon sign flashing ‘Muslim ban, Muslim ban’” that the government had not turned off.
Chin has said the travel ban discriminated against Muslims and had a negative effect on Hawaii’s tourist-dependent economy. Hawaii argued the temporary block enacted two weeks ago needed to be extended until the state’s lawsuit is resolved and to ensure the rights of Muslims across the U.S. are upheld after the “repeated stops and starts of the last two months”.
The revised travel ban issued by the Trump administration on March 6 placed a 90-day ban on individuals arriving from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. The earlier version of the executive order was blocked by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
The joint plaintiff in the Hawaii lawsuit against the Muslim Ban 2.0 is Ismail Elshikh, a senior imam in Hawaii who argued the travel ban would stop his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting the United States.
“The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has,” Watson wrote in his judgment.
Trump has said the orders were necessary to protect Americans from terrorism and campaigned on a pledge to institute “extreme vetting” of foreigners seeking to enter the country.
“We do not fault President Trump for being politically incorrect. We fault him for being constitutionally incorrect,” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin was quoted as saying in his opening arguments to the court Wednesday.
Civil advocacy groups welcome
The human rights group Amnesty International Wednesday night characterized it as another defeat for the controversial presidential order.
“The courts have once again clearly rejected the Muslim ban. Like the previous travel ban, the new order is indefensibly discriminatory,” Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement.
Rather than make people safer, the order has caused thousands of people to live in fear and uncertainty, she said adding:
“President Trump must abandon this failed agenda and immediately revoke the ban.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, Thursday welcomed a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii extending a temporary block on President Trump’s “Muslim Ban 2.0” executive order.
“We welcome Judge Watson’s decision and look forward to the ultimate defeat of this unconstitutional and un-American order in higher courts,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.
A separate ruling in Maryland had blocked enforcement of Trump’s order that affected visas, but that narrower ruling did not affect the restrictions on refugees.
The Department of Justice has appealed the Maryland decision to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals but has not appealed in the Hawaii case.
Trump has said he wants to take arguments over the travel ban to the Supreme Court.
Virginia judge backs Trump
Interestingly, a federal judge in Virginia has affirmed President Donald Trump’s authority to issue his revised travel ban executive order, although key parts of the directive remain blocked due to rulings from two judges in other states.
In a ruling Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga said Trump’s redrafted order was different enough from his first travel ban and involved enough additional deliberation that it should be allowed to go forward despite arguments that it’s simply a disguised version of the “Muslim ban” Trump repeatedly promised during the presidential campaign.
“The substantive revisions reflected in [the second order] have reduced the probative value of the President’s statements to the point that it is no longer likely that Plaintiffs can succeed on their claim that the predominate purpose of EO-2 is to discriminate against Muslims based on their religion and that EO-2 is a pretext or a sham for that purpose,” Trenga wrote in a 32-page opinion.
“In EO-2, the President has provided a detailed justification for the Order based on national security needs, and enjoining the operation of EO-2 would interfere with the President’s unique constitutional responsibilities to conduct international relations, provide for the national defense, and secure the nation,” the judge added.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer hailed the decision. “We’re pleased with this ruling, which found that the plaintiffs had no likelihood of success on the merits of their claims,” Spicer told reporters during his daily briefing on Friday. “We’re confident that the president’s fully lawful and necessary action will ultimately be allowed to move forward through the rest of the court system.”
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores also welcomed the court’s opinion. “As the Court correctly explains, the President’s Executive Order falls well within his authority to safeguard the nation’s security,” Isgur Flores said.
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: asghazali2011 (@) gamil.com