Key portions of President Donald Trump’s new travel ban won’t take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday morning because U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson has granted Hawaii’s request for a nationwide temporary halt.
In a hearing Wednesday, Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin argued that the travel ban discriminated against Muslims and would have severely damaged key Hawaiian institutions and industries like higher education and tourism. U.S. Justice Department lawyers argued that because the ban applied to only a small fraction of the world’s majority-Muslim countries, it wasn’t discriminatory.
Watson disagreed with that assessment.
“The illogic of the Government’s contentions is palpable,” he wrote in his ruling. “The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed.”
Watson also cited Trump’s repeated campaign promises to enforce what would likely be an unconstitutional Muslim ban as evidence of the order’s true intent.
“It’s clear that no amount of tweaking will undo the discriminatory intent behind this policy,” Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, said in a statement after Watson ruled. “Today’s decision is a victory for the rule of law and reminder that no one — not even the president — is above the Constitution.”
The order would have prevented nationals from the majority-Muslim countries of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen from receiving visas to enter the United States for 90 days. It also would have forbid the entrance of refugees from every country in the world for 120 days, and capped the total number of refugees that will be allowed to enter the U.S. this year at 50,000.
There will be about 1.2 million refugees in need of resettlement in 2017, according to the UN.
There were also other challenges to Trump’s new order that had court hearings Wednesday. Hawaii had filed a lawsuit against Trump’s original travel ban, but that lawsuit was put on hold after a federal judge granted Washington state a nationwide injunction for that executive order.