US court halts Donald Trump’s new travel ban before it can go into effect.


A federal US court on Wednesday blocked President Donald Trump’s second and toned-down executive order temporarily suspending travel from six-Muslim majority countries and the entry of all refugees, saying it could be seen to “disfavour a certain religion”.

The stay issued a day before the executive order was to go into effect was a massive blow to the president, whose first order sparked worldwide outrage and chaos at airports around the country and abroad as travelers flying into the US were detained for deportation on arrival.

US district judge Derrick K Watson, of Hawaii state, said in a 43-page order that any “reasonable, objective observer—enlightened by the specific historical context, contemporaneous public statements, and specific sequence of events leading to its issuance—would conclude that the executive order was issued with a purpose to disfavour a particular religion”.

Addressing a rally in Nashville, Tennessee later in the evening Trump hit back calling the stay “an unprecedented judicial overreach” and promised to challenge it.

Judge Watson was appointed by former President Barak Obama and Trump might have found a degree of support for calling the order politically motivated if it wasn’t for judge James Roberts, of Washington state, who had stayed Trump’s first travel ban order — he was appointed by President George W Bush, a Republican.

The Wednesday stay order will have countrywide effect as federal courts in other states continue to consider challenges to to the new travel ban that Trump signed into effect on March 6, giving it 10 days before going into effect to take care of issues that caused the last one to come unstuck within days of its debut in January.

The new order was less sweeping in scope and nature, with the list of countries whose citizens would be temporarily denied new visas and Green Cards — for 90 days — going from seven to six — it applies to only Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Iraq was dropped.

The new order did not impact citizens of these countries who already held US visas or Green Card.

Though the admission of all refugees would be suspended for 120 days as proposed before, those from Syria would not be subjected to an indefinite ban, in a marked change. On resumption, the annual intake would be cut by more than half to 50,000, as also stated in the first order.

The duration of the suspension was meant to be used by federal agencies — the department of homeland security, justice department and the state department to put in place a process of “extreme vetting” to prevent terrorists — whom he has called “bad dudes” — from entering the United States.

Though the administration has fought back agaisnt allegations that the order — both the first and the second — targeted Muslims, the president himself and his aides have seemed not so convincing.

And it wasn’t missed on the Hawaii judge, who cited a press statement from the Trump campaign after the San Bernardino, California attack in December 2015.


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