US Federal Judges Block Trump's New Travel Ban!

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Two federal judges have temporarily blocked President Donald Trump's travel ban, both citing Trump's statements about Muslims during the presidential campaign as part of their rulings.

A ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday resulted in a temporary restraining order nationwide, hours before it was set to go into effect. In a decision published Thursday morning, another federal judge in Maryland specifically blocked the 90-day ban on immigration for citizens of six Muslim-majority countries.  

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The order would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.

Both judges questioned the legality of the ban, which critics say is discriminatory.  

In a 43-page ruling, US District Court Judge Derrick Watson, who presides in Honolulu, concluded in no uncertain terms that the new executive order failed to pass legal muster at this stage and the state had established "a strong likelihood of success" on their claims of religious discrimination. 

President Trump insists the move is to stop terrorists from entering the United States. He decried Watson's ruling during a rally Wednesday night in Nashville, introducing his statement as "the bad, the sad news."

"The order he blocked was a watered-down version of the first one," Trump said, as the crowd booed the news.

"This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach," he added, before pledging to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.

An earlier version of the order, issued in late January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.

The practical effect of Watson's ruling -- which applies nationwide -- is that travelers from six Muslim-majority countries and refugees will be able to travel to the US.

Unlike the previous executive order, the new one removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted those with green cards and visas and removed a provision that arguably prioritizes certain religious minorities.

The new ban was announced earlier this month and was set to take effect Thursday. It would have banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.

"The illogic of the Government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed," Watson wrote.

In his 43-page ruling, he argued that a "reasonable, objective observer" taking into account the context of the Executive Order would conclude it "was issued with a purpose to disfavour a particular religion."

It notes and statements made by Mr. Trump, such as a 2015 press release, calling for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States," and his adviser Rudolph Guiliani, who said in a television interview in January: "When [Mr Trump] first announced it, he said: 'Muslim ban'. He called me up. He said: 'Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.'"

In his ruling, Judge Chuang wrote: "To avoid sowing seeds of division in our nation, upholding this fundamental constitutional principle at the core of our nation's identity plainly serves a significant public interest."

"The illogic of the Government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed," Watson wrote.

"Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries," Watson added. "It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%."

"It would, therefore, be no paradigmatic leap to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam," Watson added. "Certainly, it would be inappropriate to conclude, as the Government does, that it does not."

"When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms ... and the questionable evidence supporting the Government's national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs' (request to block the new order)," Watson wrote.

The Justice Department said it will defend the new travel ban.

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