© Reuters. Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin arrives at the US District Court Ninth Circuit to request an extension after filing an amended lawsuit against President Donald Trump‘s new travel ban in Honolulu
HONOLULU (Reuters) – A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday extended indefinitely an order blocking enforcement of President Donald Trump’s revised ban on travel to the United States from six predominantly Muslim countries.
US District Judge Derrick Watson turned an earlier temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by the state of Hawaii challenging Trump’s travel directive as unconstitutional religious discrimination.
Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in an attempt to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge halted its enforcement in February. Trump has said the travel ban is necessary for national security.
In its defiance of the travel ban, Hawaii claims its state universities would be hurt by the order because they would have trouble recruiting students and faculty.
It also says that the island state’s economy would be affected by a decline in tourism. The court documents cite reports that travel to the United States “plummeted” after Trump’s actions.
The state was joined by a new plaintiff named Ismail Elshikh, an American citizen of Egypt who is an imam of the Hawaiian Muslim Association and whose mother-in-law lives in Syria, according to the lawsuit.
Hawaii and other opponents of the ban say the motivation behind it is based on religion and Trump’s election campaign promise of “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“The court will not crawl into a corner, close the shutters and pretend it has not seen what it has,” Watson wrote on Wednesday.
Watson wrote that his decision to grant the preliminary injunction was based on the probability that the state would succeed in proving that the travel ban violated the protection of religious freedom in the United States Constitution.
Trump has promised to take the case to the US Supreme Court, which is currently split 4-4 between liberals and conservatives with the election of the president, appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, still awaiting confirmation.
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