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Hawaii Federal Judge Extends Block On Trump Travel Ban

| by Ray Brown

On March 29, a federal judge extended his own ruling that blocked President Donald Trump's travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries to apply indefinitely.

U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson put a temporary hold on Trump's executive order on March 15, dealing a blow to the administration's efforts to place severe restrictions on travel to prevent people from Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, and Iran from entering the U.S. But that hold was only to last two weeks and plaintiffs in Hawaii who initially challenged that executive order asked Watson for a longer-term injunction on the issue.

Watson granted their wish and his ruling will hold indefinitely unless challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has," Watson wrote on March 29, according to CNN. "The court concludes that, on the record before it, plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim."

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The Justice Department denounced Watson's decision and vowed to continue the Trump administration's efforts to enforce the president's executive order.

"The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the federal district court's ruling. The President's executive order fails squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation's security, and the department will continue to defend this executive order in the courts," a department spokesperson said in a statement.

The official Twitter account for Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, who argued against Trump's travel ban in court, released part of his opening statement in court.

"This is an important affirmation of the values of religious freedom enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment," Chin said. "With a preliminary injunction in place, people in Hawaii with family in the six affected Muslim-majority countries -- as well as Hawaii students, travelers, and refugees across the world -- face less uncertainty. While we understand that the President may appeal, we believe the court’s well-reasoned decision will be affirmed."

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Chin also likened Trump's travel ban to a "neon sign flashing 'Muslim ban, Muslim ban'" that the government did not turn off, according to The Associated Press.

A federal judge in Maryland also blocked Trump's executive order to temporarily ban travel for people from the six Muslim-majority countries earlier in March.

The Trump administration has asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put that ruling on hold as it considers the case, reported AP.

Sources: CNN, AP (2), Hawaii AG/Twitter (2, 3, 4) / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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