Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump’s travel ban

This Dec. 2015 file photo shows U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Honolulu. (AP)
Updated 18 October 2017
0

Judge in Hawaii blocks latest version of Trump’s travel ban

HONOLULU: A federal judge in Hawaii blocked most of President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban Tuesday, just hours before it was set to take effect, saying the revised order “suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor.”
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.


4 dead in Waffle House shooting in southern US state; suspect sought

Updated 4 min 34 sec ago
0

4 dead in Waffle House shooting in southern US state; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, US: A nearly naked gunman wearing only a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville early Sunday, shooting four people to death before a customer rushed him and wrestled the weapon away.
Authorities were searching for the 29-year-old suspect, Travis Reinking, who they said drove to the busy restaurant and killed two people in the parking lot before entering and continuing to fire. When his AR-15 rifle either jammed or the clip was empty, the customer disarmed him in a scuffle.
Four people were also wounded before the gunman fled, throwing off his jacket.
Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said there was no clear motive, though Reinking may have “mental issues.” He may still be armed, Anderson told a mid-afternoon news conference, because he was known to have owned a handgun that authorities have not recovered.
US Secret Service agents arrested Reinking last July for being in a restricted area near the White House, officials said. Special Agent Todd Hudson said Reinking was detained after refusing to leave the restricted area, saying he wanted to meet President Donald Trump.
State police in Illinois, where Reinking lived until last fall, subsequently revoked his state firearms card at the request of the FBI and four guns were then taken from him, including the AR-15 used in Sunday’s shooting as well as a handgun, authorities said.
Sheriff Robert Huston in Tazewell County, Illinois, said deputies allowed Reinking’s father to take possession of the guns on the promise that he would “keep the weapons secure and out of the possession of Travis.” Huston added that, based on past deputies’ encounters with Reinking, “there’s certainly evidence that there’s some sort of mental health issues involved.”
While Huston said it was unclear how Reinking reclaimed the guns, Nashville Police spokesman Don Aaron said that his father “has now acknowledged giving them back to his son.”
Phone calls to a number listed for the father, Jeffrey Reinking, went unanswered.
Meanwhile, authorities hailed the customer who intervened to stop a further bloodbath, 29-year-old James Shaw, Jr., as a hero — though the father of a 4-year-old girl demurred and said he was just trying to survive.
One hand bandaged, Shaw told reporters he first thought the gunshots fired around 3:25 a.m. were plates falling from a dishwashing station.
When he realized what was happening, he took cover behind a door as shots shattered windows. The gun either jammed or needed a new clip, and that’s when Shaw said he pounced after making up his mind that “he was going to have to work to kill me.”
Shaw said he was not a religious man, but “for a tenth of a second, something was with me to run through that door and get the gun from him.”
They cursed at each other as they scuffled, Shaw said, and he was able to grab the gun and toss it over a counter. The gunman then ran away into the dark of the working- and middle-class Antioch neighborhood of southeast Nashville.
Authorities said he shed his jacket nearby and police found two AR-15 magazines loaded with bullets in the pockets. He was seen walking, naked, on a road, officials said, but later was spotted wearing pants but no shirt after apparently returning to his apartment.
Another witness, Chuck Cordero, told The Tennessean newspaper he had stopped to get a cup of coffee and was outside the Waffle House when the chaos unfolded.
“He did not say anything,” Cordero said of the gunman, who he described as “all business.”
Cordero said Shaw saved lives. “There was plenty more people in that restaurant,” he said.
The dead were identified as 29-year-old restaurant worker Taurean C. Sanderlin, and restaurant patrons Joe R. Perez, 20, Akilah Dasilva, 23, and Deebony Groves, 21. A police statement said Sanderlin and Perez were killed outside the restaurant, Groves was fatally shot inside, and Dasilva was critically wounded inside and later died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Aaron, the police spokesman, said two of the wounded were being treated for gunshot wounds at the medical center, where spokeswoman Jennifer Wetzel said one was in critical condition and the other was in critical but stable condition.
TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center spokeswoman Katie Radel in Nashville said two people were treated for minor injuries and released.
Aaron said Reinking had been employed in construction and lived near the restaurant, and police used yellow crime scene tape to block public access to an apartment complex about a half-mile from the Waffle House. Reinking is originally from Morton, Illinois.
“This is a very sad day for the Waffle House family,” the company said in a statement on Twitter. “We ask for everyone to keep the victims and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”
Nashville Mayor David Briley described the shooting as “a tragic day” for the city.
“My heart goes out to the families & friends of every person who was killed or wounded,” Briley said in an emailed statement. “I know all of their lives will be forever changed by this devastating crime.”
US Rep. Jim Cooper, whose district includes Nashville, said in an emailed statement that the shooting shows the need for tighter restrictions on “widespread civilian access to military-grade assault weapons.”
Nashville Chief Anderson said there was no Tennessee law that would have barred Reinking from having guns, though weapons could be taken away if the suspect had serious mental health issues. That would require taking him to court and having his rights taken away because of illness, a sometimes lengthy and difficult process, Anderson said.
Police reports filed in Illinois showed past run-ins with authorities there.
In May 2016, Tazewell County deputies were called to a CVS parking lot where Reinking told officers that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone, and that his family was also involved, according to a report released Sunday. Reinking agreed to go to a local hospital for an evaluation after repeatedly resisting the request, the report said.
Another report from the sheriff’s office said Reinking barged into a community pool in Tremont, Illinois, last June and jumped into the water wearing a pink woman’s coat over his underwear. Investigators believed he had an AR-15 rifle in his car trunk, but it was never displayed. No charges were filed.