Washington, Oct 18: A US judge blocked the latest version of the Trump administration's travel ban just hours before it was set to take effect from Wednesday, saying that it "suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor".
Derrick Watson, a US district judge, on Tuesday granted Hawaii's request to temporarily block the federal government from enforcing the policy. He said the new ban "violated immigration law".
The newest travel rules, which Trump signed on September 24, indefinitely ban entry to the US by nationals of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. They also restrict travel by certain Venezuelan government officials and their families.
The ban, in its third iteration, was one of Trump's earliest and most controversial decisions after taking office in January. It had also been one of the most legally troubled, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Both previous versions were ordered halted by federal district judges who said they violated the Constitution or exceeded the President's authority and those orders were upheld on appeal.
The third travel ban, Judge Watson wrote on Tuesday: "Suffers from precisely the same maladies as its predecessor."
Among those flaws, he wrote, was that the ban "plainly discriminates based on nationality" in a way that undercuts "the founding principles of this nation," and that the government had not shown that the US' national interests would be harmed by admitting travellers from the affected countries.
The Trump administration swiftly denounced the judge's order, saying that the latest travel restrictions were issued after an "extensive worldwide security review".
The White House called the ruling "dangerously flawed" while vowing to appeal it, stating the court order "undercuts the President's efforts to keep the American people safe and enforce minimum security standards for entry into the US".
"The Department of Justice will vigorously defend the President's lawful action," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Judge Watson had previously blocked Trump's last travel ban in March. The policy "lacks sufficient findings that the entry of more than 150 million nationals from six specified countries would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the US,'" Judge Watson wrote.
The issue could head to the Supreme Court, where justices cancelled a hearing previously scheduled for October 10 concerning an earlier version of the travel ban.
Refugees and civil rights groups hailed the latest court ruling as a victory for people across the world fleeing persecution and violence in war-torn countries.
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