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Trump travel ban: US judge blocks new executive order

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Trump travel ban: US judge blocks new executive order

Demonstrators gather near The White House to protest President Donald Trump's travel ban on March 11, 2017 in WashingtonImage copyright AFP
Image caption The proposed travel ban has drawn protests across the US

A Federal judge in Hawaii has blocked President Donald Trump’s new travel ban, hours before it was due to begin at midnight on Thursday.

The ruling by US District Judge Derrick Watson stops the executive order from going into effect.

Hawaii is one of several US states trying to stop the ban.

The directive would have placed a 90-day ban on people from six mainly Muslim nations and a 120-day ban on refugees.

President Trump said it would stop terrorists from entering the US but critics say it is discriminatory.

Lawyers in Hawaii had argued that the ban would violate the US constitution by discriminating against people on the grounds of their national origin.

The state also said the ban would harm tourism and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers.

An earlier version of the president’s order, issued in late January, sparked confusion and protests, and was blocked by a judge in Seattle.

The White House has not yet commented on the latest ruling.

But Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who is attending a court hearing in Seattle in his efforts to block the travel ban, described it as “fantastic news”.

“It’s very exciting. At this point it’s a team effort – multiple lawsuits and multiple states,” he said.

Back to the drawing board: BBC Washington correspondent Anthony Zurcher

Donald Trump’s first travel ban was suspended because it likely violated the due process rights of individuals with valid residency papers and visas. The battle over whether it imposed an unconstitutional religious test on certain immigrants was put off until another day. That day has arrived.

In its decision, the federal court in Hawaii used Mr Trump’s own words – and the words of his advisers – against him. The text of the executive order, Judge Derrick Watson held, could not be separated from the context of the recent presidential campaign, “Muslim ban” rhetoric and all. An order that discriminates against some Muslims, he continued, is just as legally deficient as one that discriminates against them all.

Now it’s back to the drawing board for the Trump administration or – perhaps an even gloomier prospect – back to the Ninth Circuit court of appeals, which ruled against the president on the original ban just last month.

After Mr Trump’s previous adverse legal ruling, he angrily tweeted “We’ll see you in court.” Although it took a new travel order to get there, it turns out he was right.

Under the revised order, citizens of six countries on the original 27 January order – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – would once more be subject to a 90-day travel ban.

Iraq was removed from the list because its government boosted visa screening and data sharing, White House officials said.

The revised order also lifts an indefinite ban on all Syrian refugees and says Green Card holders (legal permanent residents of the US) from the named countries will not be affected.

But more than half a dozen US states have joined lawsuits in an attempt to block it.

In his presidential campaign, Mr Trump vowed “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration to the US, and to implement a process of “extreme vetting” in order to prevent violent extremists from entering the US.

Media captionNew US travel ban: What’s different?