Just hours before US President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban was set to go into effect, a federal court in Hawaii on Wednesday halted the executive order, dealing him a humiliating defeat.
The ruling means a nationwide freeze on enforcement of a ban on entry by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. It also halts a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions program.
US District Judge Derrick Watson ruled that the state of Hawaii, in its legal challenge, had established a strong likelihood that the ban would cause “irreparable injury” were it to go ahead.
“The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed,” the judge wrote.
Trump quickly vowed to fight the “flawed” ruling all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, describing it as “unprecedented judicial overreach.”
“The law in the constitution gave the president the power to suspend immigration when he deems it to be in the national interest of our country,” he said at a speech in Nashville, Tennessee, adding: “We are going to win.”
The Hawaii court said however it would not stay its decision in the event of an appeal, meaning the ban cannot go ahead as planned on Thursday regardless of any action the White House takes.
The court in Honolulu was the first to rule in a trio of legal challenges against the ban, which had been set to go into effect at midnight.
The Trump administration’s wide-ranging initial travel restrictions imposed on January 27 were slapped down by the federal courts, after sparking a legal, political and logistical furor.
Trump signed a revised ban behind closed doors on March 6 with a reduced scope, exempting Iraqis and permanent US residents but maintaining the temporary ban on the other six countries and refugees.
The White House said those six countries were targeted because their screening and information capabilities could not meet US security requirements.
Various groups and companies said they would be harmed by the travel restrictions.
A group of 58 technology companies, including Airbnb Inc, Lyft Inc and Dropbox Inc, filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case saying the order hurt their ability to recruit the best talent from around the world.
A longer list of companies, including Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google – filed a brief opposing the first ban in a different court challenge brought by Washington state, which is ongoing.
It was not immediately clear why fewer tech companies signed on to the brief this time around.