World

Trump's travel ban faces legal blocks again

Hawaii files suit against the US President's revised 
order, several other states set to follow

LOS ANGELES: President Donald Trump's revised travel ban faced mounting new legal challenges on Thursday as the state of Washington, along with several other states, vowed to block the executive order.

The announcement came one day after Hawaii filed the first suit challenging the controversial new directive, which temporarily closes US borders to all refugees and citizens from six mainly-Muslim countries.

Washington's attorney-general Bob Ferguson, whose state was the first to sue over Mr Trump's initial travel ban that created airport chaos worldwide and was eventually blocked, said at least three other states - Minnesota, New York and Oregon - are expected to join in the new legal battle.

He said his motion calls on the court to apply an existing injunction against the first travel ban issued in January to the new executive order unveiled on Monday.

"My message to President Trump is - not so fast," Mr Ferguson said.

"After spending more than a month to fix a broken order that he rushed out the door, the president's new order reinstates several of the same provisions and has the same illegal motivations as the original.

INJUNCTION

"Consequently, we are asking Judge (James) Robart to confirm that the injunction he issued remains in full force and effect as to the reinstated provisions."

Mr Ferguson said although the new order was narrower in scope, it still could be challenged on constitutional grounds.

The revised order denies US entry to all refugees for 120 days and halts for 90 days the granting of visas to nationals from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. It is due to take effect on March 16.

Iraq, which was on the initial list, was dropped from the list.

Hawaii on Tuesday filed the first lawsuit over the new ban, saying it remained unconstitutional despite the changes.

Judge Derrick Watson put the suit on a fast track, scheduling a hearing on whether to impose a national restraining order next Wednesday, the day before the executive order goes into effect.

The White House cites national security in justifying the ban, arguing that it needs time to implement "extreme vetting" procedures to keep Islamic militants from entering the country.

It comes amid a broader US crackdown on undocumented immigrants, following on Mr Trump's campaign promises of mass deportations and to build a wall on the Mexican border.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Wednesday the orders toughening immigration enforcement have driven down illegal entries - as measured by apprehensions at the border - by 40 per cent from January to February.

CHALLENGE

The challenge facing Hawaii will be to show that the ban violates constitutional guarantees against rediscrimination on the basis of religion.

The White House has modified the latest version of its decree so that it can pass legal muster, removing a reference to religion while also exempting legal permanent residents and visa holders from the ban.

In its suit, however, Hawaii argues that the second order "began life as a Muslim ban."

As evidence of the administration's intentions, the suit detailed numerous instances during the campaign that Trump referred to it as a Muslim ban.

Hawaii also claimed that the order violates constitutional protections.

"Nothing of substance has changed: There is the same blanket ban on entry from Muslim-majority countries (minus one)," Hawaii attorney-general Douglas Chin said.

"The courts did not tolerate the administration's last attempt to hoodwink the judiciary and they should not countenance this one." - REUTERS

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