US judge in Hawaii extends halt on Trump travel ban

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued the written ruling Wednesday.

ByABC News
March 30, 2017, 5:10 AM

— -- A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday extended the order blocking President Trump's controversial travel ban until the state's lawsuit is resolved.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson issued the ruling after hearing arguments.

Hawaii State Attorney General Douglas Chin argued that the ban's message is like a "neon sign flashing 'Muslim ban, Muslim ban'" that the government did not turn off.

Hawaii argued two key points about the travel ban: that it discriminates against Muslims and that it will negatively impact the state's tourism industry.

The state argued that extending the temporary order ensures the constitutional rights of American Muslims are vindicated after "repeated stops and starts of the last two months."

But the U.S. government has argued that the travel ban is within its purview because it aids in the country's national security.

And Department of Justice attorney Chad Readler downplayed the state's concerns about the ban's impact on foreign students and the tourism industry, telling Judge Watson via telephone that the state was overly broad in its concerns about the two issues.

The Trump administration had asked Judge Watson to limit his ruling to cover only the part of the president's executive order that suspends new visas for people from six countries.

The Department of Justice's Readler said a freeze on the U.S. refugee program had no effect on Hawaii.

Watson questioned that argument, noting that the government said 20 refugees had been resettled in Hawaii since 2010.

"Is this a mathematical exercise that 20 isn’t enough? ... What do I make of that?" Watson asked the government attorney.

Readler responded that 20 is simply a small number of refugees.

"In whose judgment?" Watson shot back.

State Attorney General Chin also took the opportunity to slam the president, saying in his arguments, "We cannot fault the president for being politically incorrect, but we do fault him for being constitutionally incorrect."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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