Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump’s travel ban
Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump’s travel ban
It was the third set of travel restrictions issued by the president to be thwarted, in whole or in part, by the courts.
US District Judge Derrick Watson issued the ruling after the ban on a set of mostly Muslim countries was challenged by the state of Hawaii, which warned that the restrictions would separate families and undermine the recruiting of diverse college students.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the ruling “dangerously flawed” and said it “undercuts the president’s efforts to keep the American people safe.” The Justice Department said it will quickly appeal.
At issue was a ban, announced in September and set to go into effect early Wednesday, on travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, along with some Venezuelan government officials and their families.
The Trump administration said the ban was based on an assessment of each country’s security situation and willingness to share information with the US
Watson, appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama, said the new restrictions ignore a federal appeals court ruling against Trump’s previous ban.
The latest version “plainly discriminates based on nationality in the manner that the 9th Circuit has found antithetical to ... the founding principles of this nation,” Watson wrote.
The judge’s ruling applies only to the six Muslim-majority countries on the list. It does not affect the restrictions against North Korea or Venezuela, because the state of Hawaii did not ask for that.
“This is the third time Hawaii has gone to court to stop President Trump from issuing a travel ban that discriminates against people based on their nation of origin or religion,” Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in a statement. “Today is another victory for the rule of law.”
Hawaii argued the updated ban was a continuation of Trump’s campaign call for a ban on Muslims, despite the addition to the list of two countries without a Muslim majority.
Watson noted that Hawaii argues Trump hasn’t backed down on calls for a ban on Muslim immigration. Watson cited Trump’s series of June tweets “in which (Trump) complained about how the Justice Department had submitted a ‘watered down, politically correct version’ to the Supreme Court.”
Other courts that weighed the travel ban have cited Trump’s comments about banning Muslims from entering the United States.
The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said a previous version of the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.
In Greenbelt, Maryland, US District Judge Theodore Chuang called Trump’s own statements about barring Muslims from entering the United States “highly relevant.”
In his previous ruling, Watson wrote, referring to a statement Trump issued as a candidate, “For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release: ‘Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.’
Watson’s ruling Tuesday said the new ban, like its predecessor, fails to show that nationality alone makes a person a greater security risk to the US
“The categorical restrictions on entire populations of men, women and children, based upon nationality, are a poor fit for the issues regarding the sharing of ‘public-safety and terrorism-related information’ that the president identifies,” Watson said.
He also said the ban is inconsistent in the way some countries are included or left out. For example, Iraq failed to meet the security benchmark but was omitted from the ban. Somalia met the information-sharing benchmark but was included.
Watson also found fault with what sorts of visitors are barred. For instance, all tourists and business travelers from Libya are excluded from the US, but student visitors were allowed.
The judge said he would set an expedited hearing to determine whether his temporary restraining order blocking the ban should be extended.
Other courts are weighing challenges to the ban.
In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions. Washington state, Massachusetts, California, Oregon, New York and Maryland are challenging the order in front of the same federal judge in Seattle who struck down Trump’s initial ban in January.
That ban — aimed mostly at Muslim-majority countries — led to chaos and confusion at airports nationwide and triggered several lawsuits, including one from Hawaii.
When Trump revised the ban, Hawaii challenged that version, too, and Watson agreed it discriminated on the basis of nationality and religion. A subsequent US Supreme Court ruling allowed the administration to partially reinstate restrictions against Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and against all refugees.
Hawaii then successfully challenged the government’s definition of which relatives of people already living in the US would be allowed into the country, and Watson ordered the list expanded.
Afghan polls delayed in Kandahar after police chief’s killing
- Government deploys troops in the province to ensure security
- Elections have faced several delays due to a power struggle within the government
KABUL – Afghanistan’s government on Friday said it was postponing the parliamentary elections and deploying troops in the Kandahar province to quell any attempts at unrest, after two top commanders were killed by the Taliban a day earlier, officials said.
In a statement released early on Friday, the presidential palace said that the decision to delay the polls on Saturday were made “at the request of the people of Kandahar” and in keeping with the suggestion by the government-appointed election commission. The elections have experienced several delays in the past three years because of an ongoing power struggle within the government.
The move follows an attack on Thursday where the bodyguard of Kandahar’s governor killed the province’s police chief, General Abdul Raziq, and the head of intelligence as the two were walking with US’ top military commander for Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, after a security meeting.
The event has created a military and political vacuum in Kandahar — the birthplace of the Taliban — and is seen as a major blow for the shaky central government. The militant group claimed responsibility for the attack, which saw General Miller escaping unhurt, while two US soldiers, a foreign contractor, Kandahar’s governor, Zalmai Weesa, the province’s army chief and another top police commander were wounded in the incident.
The Taliban said that the assailant was the group’s supporter, adding that they had intended to target General Miller and General Raziq — a top anti-Taliban commander.