A federal judge in Hawaii who temporarily blocked Donald Trump’s revised travel ban reportedly will hear arguments Wednesday on whether to extend his order.
If U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson does not issue a longer hold on the ban, the order would be extended until the state’s lawsuit works its way through the courts.
Legal experts say it is unlikely Watson would side with the Trump administration. The state says the policy discriminates against Muslims, while the government says it falls within Trump’s power to protect national security.
Earlier this month, Watson prevented the federal government from suspending new visas for people from six Muslim-majority countries and freezing the nation’s refugee program. The ruling came just hours before the ban was to take effect.
Watson, nominated to the bench by former President Barack Obama in 2012, agreed with Hawaii that the ban would hurt the state’s tourism-dependent economy and that it discriminates based on nationality and religion.
Trump called the ruling an example of “unprecedented judicial overreach.”
The next day, a judge in Maryland also blocked the six-nation travel ban but said it wasn’t clear that the suspension of the refugee program was similarly motivated by religious bias.
The federal government appealed the Maryland ruling to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and sought to narrow the Hawaii ruling.
The state has urged Watson to extend his ruling until the lawsuit is resolved.
“And after the repeated stops and starts of the last two months, it would ensure that the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs, and of Muslim citizens throughout the United States, could be finally and fully vindicated,” lawyers for the state said in a court filing.
Ismail Elshikh, the imam of a Honolulu mosque, has joined the legal challenge, saying the ban would prevent his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting family in the U.S.
The Department of Justice opposes Hawaii’s request to extend Watson’s temporary order. But the department said that if the judge agrees, he should narrow the ruling to cover only the part of Trump’s executive order that suspends new visas for people from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen.
Hawaii’s lawsuit doesn’t show how the state would be harmed by other sections of the ban, including suspending the refugee program, government attorneys said in court papers.
Trump’s revised executive order involves “a detailed review of the national security risks that pose the greatest threats to the nation, and it then provided targeted measures to address those security risks in a religiously neutral manner,” government lawyers say in court documents.
With reporting by the Associated Press