Two federal judges—one in Hawaii and one in Maryland—ruled against President Donald Trump's latest immigration executive order, with the federal judge in Hawaii issuing a nationwide halt.
Both judges argued that the travel ban was in effect discriminatory against Muslims, given both the president's campaign rhetoric and the fact that all of the countries included in the list are Muslim majority.
Judge Derrick K. Watson of Honolulu wrote that any “reasonable, objective observer” would see this executive order as “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose,” The New York Times reported.
A judge in Maryland did not go so far as to suspend the entire order, though he did undermine key parts of it and granted a preliminary injunction, Associated Press reported. Maryland's Judge Theodore D. Chuang reversed the portion of the order that prevented new visas from being granted to nationals from the countries on the list. He also argued that the president had not proved the order was necessary for national security.
The order suspends the refugee program and restricts immigration from 6 majority-Muslim countries, including Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria and Libya. The directive is the second attempt at a travel ban, after Trump's first executive order on the subject was met with chaos at airports and widespread protest.
The new order makes several important revisions on the previous one, including removing language that appeared to favor Christian refugees over Muslims. It also clarifies that visa and green card holders from the included countries will be excluded from the travel ban, and it excludes Iraq from the list of countries.
Opponents of the order argued for a last-minute suspension Wednesday before it went into effect Friday, saying that the order was both discriminatory and would separate family members from each other. Members of the Trump administration have insisted that the new order is substantially different and within the president's powers assigned by the Constitution.
Washington Judge James L. Robart, who initially froze Trump's first ban, heard arguments Wednesday evening. A ruling is expected.
"What we're looking at is what Donald Trump said when he was running for president," Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told NPR.
"He said he wanted to create a Muslim ban,” Ferguson, said, nothing the “strong evidence that the intent behind these executive orders was actually less about national security, and more about a Muslim ban.”
Trump slammed the rulings, calling them “unprecedented judicial overreach.”