Federal judge in Hawaii extends injunction halting travel ban

The US federal judge who put on hold President Trump's revised travel ban extended his order blocking implementation of the controversial measure.

US District Judge Derrick Watson issued a nationwide preliminary injunction against enforcement of Trump's second executive order on the topic on Wednesday, hours after holding arguments in the case.

On Wednesday, Judge Watson issued the permanent preliminary injunction after hearing arguments from the Hawaii attorney general and the US Department of Justice.

The revised order removes references to religion, he said. "It's as if there's a flashing neon sign behind them saying 'Muslim ban, Muslim ban'".

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has set a hearing for May 8 to consider the administration's appeal of the Maryland ruling. Last month, a three-judge panel of that court declined to disturb a Seattle-based federal judge's broad order blocking key parts of Trump's original executive order.

This month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from six countries and freezing the nation's refugee program.

Watson wrote that, "as no new evidence contradicting the goal identified by the Court has been submitted by the parties since the issuance of the March 15, 2017 [temporary travel ban restraining order]", there was "no reason" to undermine his previous decision to stay the ban until the state's lawsuit was settled.

Judge Watson rejected the Justice Department's calls to ignore President Trump's public statements about seeking a ban on immigration and travel from Muslim countries in order to fend off terrorism.

Meanwhile, opponents of the travel ban are pursuing lawsuits in other courts.

President Trump says his revised travel ban seeks to prevent terrorists from entering the United States.

Trump reacted to Watson's March 15 restraining order by calling the ruling "an unprecedented judicial overreach", pledging to take the legal fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

"And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place", Trump said.

The Justice Department said Thursday morning it will continue to defend the executive order.

An earlier version of the president's ban was blocked by the courts.

Watson wrote that his decision to grant the preliminary injunction was based on the likelihood that the state would succeed in proving that the travel ban violated the USA constitution's religious freedom protection.

  • Larry Hoffman