Federal judges halted Donald Trump’s revised executive order to temporarily close US borders to refugees and nationals from six Muslim-majority countries, dealing the president a humiliating defeat.
The rulings trigger a nationwide freeze on enforcement of a ban on entry by nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.
They also halt a 120-day suspension of the US refugee admissions programme.
Trump’s restrictions had been due to go into effect yesterday.
On Wednesday, 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.
In Maryland yesterday, a district judge issued a similar nationwide injunction on a separate complaint filed by advocacy groups claiming the amended order discriminated against Muslims.
Theodore Chuang ruled that the plaintiffs “are likely to prevail on the merits, that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of injunctive relief and that the balance of the equities and the public interest favour an injunction”.
Trump 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 in Nashville, Tennessee. “We are going to win.” However, the court in Honolulu indicated it would not stay its decision in the event of an appeal, meaning the ban could not go ahead as planned yesterday regardless of any action the White House took. It was the first court to issue its ruling in a trio of legal challenges against the ban.
A federal court in Seattle granted a separate emergency motion from Washington and Oregon states for a 14-day temporary restraining order.
The Trump administration’s wideranging initial travel restrictions imposed on January 27 were slapped down by the federal courts, after sparking a legal and logistical furore.
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.