President Donald Trump vowed to defend his ban on travelers from certain Muslim-majority nations just hours after a federal judge in Hawaii put a hold on the executive order nationwide Wednesday night.
“This ruling makes us look weak ― which, by the way, we no longer are, believe me. Just look at our borders,” Trump told a crowd at a campaign-style rally in Tennessee. “We are going to fight this terrible ruling. We’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court. We are going to win.”
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson said Trump’s travel ban likely amounted to a violation of the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which forbids the government from favoring certain religions over others.
This is Trump’s second attempt at an executive order restricting refugees and travelers from majority-Muslim nations. The first one, on Jan. 27, blocked travel by permanent residents and visa holders from seven Muslim-majority countries. It spurred protests around the country and was blocked by a federal judge in Seattle and then an appeals court.
The Trump administration then reworked the ban, removing some of the most controversial parts, including preferential treatment for religious minorities (i.e. non-Muslims) and taking Iraq off the list of affected countries.
“It’s a watered-down version of the first one,” Trump said of his new ban. “And let me tell you something: I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.”
Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, told reporters that statements like that were simply providing more ammunition to opponents of the ban who argue that the new ban is just as bad as the first.
“He should just continue talking, because he is making our arguments for us,” Hincapié said.
Indeed, Watson seemed to try to figure out Trump’s true intentions in his ruling, expressing skepticism at the White House argument that the executive order was not really a ban on Muslims.
I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place. President Donald Trump
“A review of the historical background here makes plain why the Government wishes to focus on the Executive Order’s text, rather than its context. The record before this Court is unique. It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus driving the promulgation of the Executive Order and its related predecessor,” Watson wrote.
Watson also had plenty of evidence to back him up from Trump’s own allies, including senior adviser Stephen Miller ― who said the second version would “have the same basic policy outcome” ― and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who said the executive order was essentially a backdoor Muslim ban.
Trump, in his rally Wednesday, also implied that Watson ruled against him for political reasons.
“You don’t think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you? No,” Trump said sarcastically.
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