12 Mar 2017

Judge refuses to halt second Trump travel ban

6:42 am on 12 March 2017

A US judge has declined to issue an emergency order banning President Donald Trump's revised travel ban.

Several hundred demonstrators protest President Donald Trump's executive order which imposes a freeze on admitting refugees into the United States and a ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries at the international terminal at O'Hare Airport on February 1, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois

People protest the travel ban in Chicago. Photo: AFP

The ruling came from Seattle district judge James Robart, the same judge who had issued the order that, in effect, halted implementation of the first ban.

The new 90-day ban on citizens of six mostly Muslim nations is due to come into effect on Thursday but has sparked legal action in a number of states.

Lawyers in Washington state had asked Judge Robart to extend his decision on the first ban to cover the second.

But the judge cited procedural reasons for not doing so.

He said a complaint or a motion would have to be filed before he could rule.

The justice department had argued that since the initial travel order ban had been revoked, the judge's first ruling could no longer apply. Those opposing that argument said the new travel ban had the same effect as the original.

In succeeding with the first ban, they argued the move was unconstitutional and damaging to businesses in Washington state.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Thursday that the administration believed the new order would withstand legal scrutiny.

Several states have launched legal challenges.

The first order, which Mr Trump signed in January, sparked mass protests as well as confusion at airports.

Critics maintain the revised travel ban still discriminates against Muslims. Trump supporters say the president is fulfilling his campaign promises to protect Americans.

Under the revised order, citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen - six countries on the original 27 January order - will once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban.

Iraq was taken off the banned list because its government boosted visa screening and data sharing, White House officials said.

The new directive says refugees already approved by the state department can enter the US. It also lifts an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees.

Green Card holders from the named countries will not be affected.

The new order does not give priority to religious minorities, unlike the previous directive. Critics of the Trump administration had argued that this was an unlawful policy showing preference to Christian refugees.

Which states have launched challenges and why?

  • Oregon - said the order hurts residents, employers, universities health care system and economy
  • Washington - it has "same illegal motivations as the original" and harms residents, although fewer than the first ban
  • Minnesota - questioned the legality of the move, suggesting the Trump administration can't override the initial ban with a fresh executive order
  • New York - "a Muslim ban by another name", said the attorney general
  • Massachusetts - new ban "remains a discriminatory and unconstitutional attempt to make good on his campaign promise to implement a Muslim ban"
  • Hawaii - argued it would harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students