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Hawaii judge rejects Trump administration request to revise travel ban ruling

By JAWEED KALEEM
Los Angeles Times

March 20. 2017 3:22AM
Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin, right, arrives at the U.S. District Court Ninth Circuit to present his arguments after filing an amended lawsuit against President Donald Trump's new travel ban in Honolulu last week. (REUTERS/Hugh Gentry/File Photo)

The Hawaii judge who brought a national halt to President Donald Trump's new travel ban last week has rejected the government's request to limit his ruling.

In a short filing in his Honolulu court on Sunday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson told federal lawyers who protested against the broad scope of his ruling that "there is nothing unclear" about his order against the ban.

The Department of Justice had filed a motion late Friday asking Watson to scale back his decision that found the travel ban to discriminate against Muslims to match a narrower ruling against it issued by a federal court in Maryland.

On Wednesday, Watson ordered a stop to Trump's 90-day ban on travel into the U.S. by citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day pause on refugee resettlement from any country. The judge also stopped the government's attempt to cap refugee resettlement and the compiling of a series of government studies and reports on how refugees and foreign visitors to the U.S. are vetted.

In their Friday motion, government lawyers had asked Watson to revise his ruling to say it did not apply to the refugee ban or to the government studies and reports. Federal lawyers did not abandon their argument that Trump's executive order is constitutional but said the judge should limit his ruling to the six-country ban.

"The motion, in other words, asks the court to make a distinction that the federal defendants' previous briefs and arguments never did. As important, there is nothing unclear about the scope of the court's order. ... The federal defendants' motion is denied," Watson wrote on Sunday.

If Watson had granted the request, the Hawaii ruling would have largely matched a Maryland federal court order against the travel ban that was issued on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang. The Maryland judge declined to rule against the pause and cap on refugees.

The Department of Justice has appealed Chuang's decision to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. It could also appeal last week's Hawaii ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The original travel ban, signed Jan. 27, was blocked in federal district courts and the 9th Circuit. The new ban, signed March 6 and scheduled to go into effect March 16, was modified in an attempt to pass court muster.

Changes in the new version included deleting Iraq from the list of countries whose travelers would be blocked and removing preferential treatment of refugees who were religious minorities.


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