US states pile pressure on Trump's revised travel ban

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WASHINGTON: A group of US states run by Democrats on Monday (Mar 13) stepped up the pressure in federal court for the suspension of Republican President Donald Trump's amended travel ban, if possible before it takes effect on Thursday.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (C) gives a press conference asking a federal judge to block US President Donald Trump's revised travel ban by affirming an order blocking the first ban, in Seattle, Washington. (AFP/Jason Redmond)

The state of Washington filed a request to this effect with the same Seattle judge who on Feb 3 issued a stay against Trump's first executive order on immigration.

Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson hopes to win the same kind of suspension for the new order, which the White House tweaked in a bid to make it unassailable in court.

Under the new order, the refugee programme would be suspended for 120 days. And for 90 days, no new visas would be granted to travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The first version of the order, signed by Trump on Jan 27, triggered howls of protest at home and abroad as well as chaos at US airports as some people were detained upon arrival and either held for hours or sent back where they came from.

The revamped travel ban explicitly exempts holders of valid visas or legal permanent residents, as well as citizens of Iraq.

Critics say the new order is still essentially a ban on Muslims coming to the United States and therefore unconstitutional because it singles out people of a certain religion for discrimination.

In his filing with Judge James Robart, Ferguson requested an emergency hearing for Tuesday. He accused the government of trying to skirt around the court's first ruling, which suspended the Trump administration's initial travel order.

"When a court enjoins a defendant from enforcing policies, the defendant cannot evade the injunction by announcing that it will continue only some of the illegal policies. Yet that is what defendants attempt here," Ferguson wrote.

Robart said there would be no hearing before Wednesday and asked the Justice Department for a response to Ferguson's motion.

California said it would join the suit filed by Washington. It also has the support of Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York and Oregon.

"The Trump administration may have changed the text of the now-discredited Muslim travel ban, but they didn’t change its unconstitutional intent and effect," said California attorney general Xavier Becerra.

Hawaii has also filed suit against the new order, as have rights groups and immigrant advocacy associations, which filed papers with a judge in Maryland.

Federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland have already scheduled hearings for Wednesday in the latest chapter of the uproar over a measure that Trump says is necessary to keep extremists from entering the United States.

The new order hit its first roadblock Friday when a judge in Wisconsin said it could not be applied to the wife and child of a Syrian refugee who had already reached America.

Source AFP

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