The judge who halted President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban on refugees and arrivals from six mainly Muslim countries has extended his order, dealing another blow to the White House.
After a hearing lasting several hours, US District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii said Wednesday he had turned his original temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction.
Such an injunction generally has no set expiration date, said Hawaii state Attorney General Doug Chin, meaning Trump will be barred from enforcing the ban while it is contested in court.
The US Justice Department is expected to appeal to the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hawaii was the first of several US states to sue over the amended ban.
Trump has said his proposed travel ban is needed to preserve US national security and keep out terrorists intent on doing harm to Americans.
The government had asked Watson to limit his first ruling to just the part of the order involving the six Muslim countries — Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen, the New York Times reported.
Justice Department attorney Chad Readler argued before the judge that the refugee resettlement restriction had no effect on far-flung Hawaii, the paper said.
But Watson rejected the argument. He said 20 refugees had been accepted in Hawaii since 2010, the Times said.
Watson’s first order suspending enforcement of Trump’s amended ban was issued March 15 — a day before it was to go into effect.
Trump’s first ban and the revised one have both been criticized as amounting to a ban on entry of Muslims into the US.
Hawaii’s attorney general Chin praised the new court ruling.
“With a preliminary injunction in place, people in Hawaii with family in the six affected Muslim-majority countries – as well as Hawaii students, travelers, and refugees across the world – face less uncertainty,” he said.
“While we understand that the president may appeal, we believe the court’s well reasoned decision will be affirmed,” he added in a statement.
In his first order, Watson ruled it was plausible “to conclude that targeting these countries likewise targets Islam” given their Muslim populations ranging from 90.7 percent to 99.8 percent.