Immigration Law

Hawaii federal judge extends order blocking revised travel ban, 'will not crawl into a corner'

  • Print.

Derrick Watson

Judge Derrick Watson. Photo from U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii via Wikimedia Commons.

A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday granted a preliminary injunction that blocks President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said the revised ban likely violated the establishment clause. He also refused to narrow his order to allow a 120-day ban on refugees to take effect. Publications covering his decision include the Associated Press, Reuters, USA Today and Politico.

Watson’s order (PDF) converts his temporary restraining order blocking the revised ban into a preliminary injunction that lasts until the case is resolved on the merits. He ruled in a suit by the state of Hawaii that has been joined by the imam of a Honolulu mosque.

The revised travel ban reduces from seven to six the number of majority-Muslim countries from which travel into the United States is banned. Also, the revised order no longer prohibits entry by lawful permanent residents and current visa holders and allows case-by-case waivers.

Trying to assuage establishment clause concerns, the government had pointed out that the revised ban no longer gives a preference to religious minorities, which would have benefited Christians in Muslim-majority countries. Indeed, a federal judge in Virginia had cited that change in refusing to block the revised travel ban.

Watson, however, found there was still evidence of religious animus. He noted President Trump had characterized the revised order as “a watered-down version of the first one.”

The administration had urged that Watson not look beyond the four corners of the order. Watson refused. “The court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has,” he wrote.

A Maryland judge’s ruling blocking a portion of the travel ban is on appeal to the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Justice Department has indicated it would not object to an en banc hearing if it does not delay the appeal, Politico reports.

The White House said in response that it believes the executive order is legal, and this ruling is “just the latest step that will allow the administration to appeal,” spokesman Sean Spicer said.

Updated at 2:41 p.m. to include quote from Spicer.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.