Sunday 25 February 2018

A US judge has extended his block on Trump's travel ban - but what exactly does this mean?

By Georgia Humphreys

US District Judge Derrick Watson issued the longer-lasting hold on the ban several hours after hearing arguments.

A federal judge in Hawaii has decided to extend his order blocking President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

US District Judge Derrick Watson issued the longer-lasting hold on the ban several hours after hearing arguments.

But what impact will this decision have? Here’s everything you need to know.

What does this block mean?

It prevents the US government from suspending new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and halting the US refugee programme.

Extending the temporary order until the state’s lawsuit was resolved would ensure the constitutional rights of Muslim citizens across the US are vindicated after “repeated stops and starts of the last two months,” the state has said.

Why has Watson made this ruling?

Hawaii says the policy discriminates against Muslims and hurts the state’s tourist-dependent economy.

The implied message in the revised ban is like a “neon sign flashing ‘Muslim ban, Muslim ban’,” that the government didn’t bother to turn off, state Attorney General Douglas Chin told the judge.

What arguments were heard?

The government argued the ban falls within the president’s power to protect national security.

The Trump administration had asked Watson to narrow his ruling to cover only the part of Trump’s executive order involving the six-nation ban. Department of Justice lawyer Chad Readler said a freeze on the US refugee programme had no effect on Hawaii.

Watson rejected that argument, preventing the administration from halting the flow of refugees.

What has Hawaii already done about the ban?

Hawaii was the first state to sue over Trump’s revised ban. The imam of a Honolulu mosque joined the challenge, arguing that the ban would prevent his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting family in Hawaii.

Earlier this month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen and freezing the nation’s refugee programme. His ruling came just hours before the federal government planned to start enforcing Trump’s executive order.

How has Trump reacted?

Trump called Watson’s previous ruling an example of “unprecedented judicial overreach”. The Department of Justice didn’t immediately comment on the latest ruling.

What happens now?

Watson wrote that he won’t suspend his ruling if the government appeals. Enforcement of both provisions of the ban is prohibited nationwide until he orders otherwise.

Hawaii’s ruling would not be directly affected by a decision siding with the federal government in a Maryland case, legal experts said. The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals set a hearing for May 8 to consider the administration’s appeal.

Press Association

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