Friday, 17 March 2017

Trump’s order to ban Muslims into the US is denied again

A federal judge in Hawaii on March 15th 2017 issued a  restraining order on President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, thereby temporarily blocking Trump’s executive order from going into effect as planned.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson stated that the revised ban still discriminates on the basis of nationality and prevents Hawaii residents from receiving visits from relatives living in the six Muslim-majority countries the executive order targets, according to the Associated Press.

The judge in his ruling on the plaintiff’s motion, said’ "According to the Plaintiffs, the Executive order also results in 'their having to live in a country and in a State where there is the perception that the Government has established a disfavored religion,' which is contrary the United States  Constitution.  

“On January 27, 2017, the President of the United States issued an Executive Order titled; “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.

“On March 6, 2017, the President issued another Executive Order, identically titled, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.  

A court order was requested from the United States District Court for the district of the State of Hawaii granting a motion for a temporary restraining order on behalf of the State of Hawaii and Ismaile lshikh, plaintiffs. The respondent was Donald Trump et al (and others)

The order granting the motion for a temporary restraining order was granted and it read as such;    

“This court revokes Executive Order No. 13,769 upon taking effect.  

“Executive Order  13, 14. Like its predecessor, the Executive Order restricts the entry of foreign nationals from specified countries and suspends entrants from the United States refugee program for specified periods of time. Plaintiffs State of Hawai‘i and Ismail Elshikh, Ph.D. seek a nation-wide temporary restraining order that would prohibit the Federal Defendants from “enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of the Executive Order before it takes effect.   

 “Upon evaluation of the parties’ submissions, and following a hearing on March 15, 2017, the Court concludes that, on the record before it, Plaintiffs have met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim, that irreparable injury is likely if the requested relief is not issued, and that the balance of the equities and public interest counsel in favor of granting the requested relief Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion is granted for the reasons detailed. unquote

 Rejecting arguments from the government’s attorneys that President Trump's revised travel ban was substantially different from the first one, judges in Hawaii and Maryland blocked the executive order from taking effect as scheduled on Thursday, using the president's own words as evidence that the order discriminates against Muslims.

The rulings in Hawaii late Wednesday and in Maryland early Thursday were victories for civil liberties groups and advocates for immigrants and refugees, who argued that a temporary ban on travel from six predominantly Muslim countries violated the First Amendment. The Trump administration argued that the ban was intended to protect the United States from terrorism.

In Greenbelt, Maryland, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang who was appointed by then-president Barack Obama called Trump's own statements about barring Muslims from entering the United States "highly relevant." The second executive order removed a preference for religious minorities from the affected countries, among other changes that the Justice Department argued would address the legal concerns surrounding the first ban, which was also blocked in court.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order issuing a revised travel ban on March 6, 2017.

Justice Chuang said, "Despite the changes, the history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban,"

The initial ban sparked chaos at U.S. airports and widespread criticism around the world when it was signed in January. It was later blocked by a judge in Washington State, a ruling that was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In Honolulu, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson criticized what he called the "illogic" of the government's arguments and cited "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" behind the travel ban. He also noted that while courts should not examine the "veiled psyche" and "secret motives" of government decision-makers, "the remarkable facts at issue here require no such impermissible inquiry."

Justice Watson also wrote, referring to a statement Trump issued as a candidate, "For instance, there is nothing 'veiled' about this press release: 'Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."'

Hours before it was to take effect, President Donald Trump's revised travel ban was put on hold on March 15th by a federal judge in Hawaii who questioned whether or not the Trump administration was motivated by national security concerns.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson also said that Hawaii would suffer financially if the executive order blocked the flow of students and tourists to the state, and he concluded that Hawaii was likely to succeed on a claim that the ban violates the First Amendment of the Constitution that offers protections against religious discrimination.

Justice Watson further wrote, "The illogic of the government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus (animosity) toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once  is illogic.

Trump called the ruling an example of "unprecedented judicial overreach" and said his administration would appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

He bragged, "We're going to win. We're going to keep our citizens safeas he addressed a rally in Nashville. "The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear."

The judge issued his 43-page ruling less than two hours after hearing Hawaii's request for a temporary restraining order to stop the ban from being put into practice.

The ruling came as opponents renewed their legal challenges across the country, asking judges in three more states to block the executive order that targets people from six predominantly Muslim countries. Federal courts in Maryland, Washington state and Hawaii heard arguments as to whether or not it should be allowed to take effect March 16th  as scheduled. In all, more than half a dozen states are trying to stop the ban.

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. “The case was argued in court by acting U.S. Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, who said the ban "doesn't say anything about religion. It doesn't draw any religious distinctions."

That is hog wash. The vast majority of those citizens in those six countries are Muslims. If the vast majority of the citizens in those six countries were  Christians, would they be banned from  entering the United States? The answer to that question is no different than the asking if pigs can fly.

Why didn’t Trump ban Muslims in Nigeria from entering the United States. After nearly a decade of violence, Nigeria’s government still does not have an effective strategy for dismantling the terrorist group called Boko Haram that not only terrorizes Northern Nigeria which is primarily Muslim but also terrorized Nigeria’s  neighbouring countries?

Why didn’t Trump also ban Muslims from the Philippines? In southern Philippines, since January 2000  radical Islamist groups and Islamist separatist forces in the Philippines have carried out over 40 major bombings against civilians and civilian property, mostly in the southern regions of the country around Mindanao, Basilan, Jolo and other nearby islands.  Militant organizations like the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front operate in the Sulu archipelago and easternmost island of Mindanao.

Why didn’t Trump also ban Muslims from Saudi ArabiaTerrorism in Saudi Arabia has been attributed to Islamic extremists. Their targets included foreign civilians—Westerners affiliated with its oil-based economy as well as Saudi Arabian civilians. Saudi Arabia itself has been accused of funding terrorism in other countries; one of them is Syria. Further, Saudi Arabia is also accused of funding other terrorist groups in other countries. And let us not forget the nine terrorists who flew the planes into the Twin Towers at the World Center and into the Pentagon and later into the ground killing at least three thousand innocent victims. They were all Muslims from Saudi Arabia.

Speaking on the evening of March 15th, at a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump called the ruling in Hawaii an example of "unprecedented judicial overreach" and said his administration would appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court. He also called his new travel ban a watered-down version of the first one, which he said he wished he could implement.
He bragged, "We're going to win. We're going to keep our citizens safe. The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear.’

While the Hawaii ruling temporarily blocks the travel ban, a temporary ban on refugees and a cap on the number of refugees who can enter the country, because Justice Chuang's ruling in Maryland applies only to the travel ban. The Maryland ruling took the form of a preliminary injunction, which will remain in effect indefinitely as the case is litigated. Justice Chuang was also the first judge to stop the ban outside the ninth Circuit, which has a liberal reputation. Unfortunately, Chuang wrote that the plaintiffs didn't sufficiently develop their argument that a temporary ban on refugees discriminates on the basis of religion. That was a slip up that was fortunately covered by Justice Watson in Hawaii.

Omar Jadwat, who argued the case for the American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland said, "Unless and until the president realizes that this is a battle in which he's going to keep losing and decides to do the right thing and abandon this course, for as long as he's on it we'll keep litigating it and I think we're going to keep winning,"

Plaintiffs in the Maryland case also had sought to stop a portion of the order that would reduce the number of refugees allowed to enter the country this fiscal year from 110,000 to 50,000.

Still, the judge's order is hugely meaningful for many plaintiffs, including a man in Texas whose same-sex fiance is seeking a visa to enter the United States from Iran.

Unfortunately Trump wants to continue to separate families who've already been separated for months and years. It is real-world consequences and I am convinced that the majority of Americans are obviously very glad to see that Judge Chuang recognized those and rejected the government's frankly callous argument put out by Trumps indifferent  followers.

If the administration appeals Justice Watson's decision at the 9th Circuit level, the matter would likely be heard by different judges from the three who ruled on the case last month. The panel of judges who are  assigned to such cases rotate every month.

An appeal to the 4th  Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, would not necessarily be easier for the Trump administration, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond who is following the cases. The 4tth  Circuit has a conservative reputation but has become more moderate in recent years.  It will be interesting to see what their decision will be.

The hearings in Maryland and Hawaii were two of three held on March 15th,  in federal courts around the country. U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, who blocked the initial travel ban last month, did not immediately rule on a request from an immigrant-rights group to block the revised version. In all, more than half a dozen states are trying to stop the ban.

In Maryland, attorneys told a federal judge that the measure still discriminates against Muslims. Government attorneys argued that the ban was revised substantially to address legal concerns, including the removal of an exemption for religious minorities from the affected countries.

I don’t know how they can do that considering most  of the people in those six countries are Muslims.

This is an extremely important issue. Its outcome will define the collective character of the people of the United States. 

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