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A federal judge in the US state of Hawaii has halted President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, ruling that it is unconstitutional.
US District Judge Derrick Watson ruled on Wednesday evening that the state of Hawaii, in its legal challenge to Trump's executive order, had established that the law could not be enforced, hours before it was due to come into effect.
The judge ruled, citing several comments made by Trump, that the travel ban is, despite the administration’s denials, a Muslim ban. His ruling applies nationwide.
Judge Watson concluded in his ruling that the revised ban is in fact not all that different to the original one. “Based upon the current record available, however, the Court cannot find the actions taken during the interval between revoked Executive Order No. 13,769 and the new Executive Order to be ‘genuine changes in constitutionally significant conditions.’”
The court in Hawaii was the first to rule on several legal challenges against the travel ban, which targets people from six mainly Muslim countries.
Later on Wednesday, decisions were expected from federal courts in Washington state and Maryland.
A day after Trump signed the new executive order on March 6, attorneys for Hawaii filed their proposed revision in federal court, along with a motion asking that it be allowed to proceed.
The revised travel ban changed and replaced the original, more sweeping executive order issued on January 27 that caused chaos and protests at airports and was challenged in more than two dozen lawsuits across the US.
A federal judge in Seattle, Washington, blocked the first order, in a decision upheld by an appeals court in San Francisco, California.
The judge questioned the Trump administration's use of the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US as a justification for the travel ban and said such measures must be “based in fact, as opposed to fiction.”
Trump’s new order maintained a 90-day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, but excluded Iraq and applied the restriction only to new visa applicants. It also removed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.