A U.S. federal judge in Hawaii has indefinitely extended the suspension of President Trump's new travel ban.
In a lawsuit, the USA state says the ban would harm tourism and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers.
Trump has said his proposed travel ban is needed to preserve USA national security and keep out terrorists intent on doing harm to Americans.
Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in a bid to overcome legal problems with a January executive order that caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February.
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. "We fault him for being constitutionally incorrect", Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin said in his opening arguments to the court Wednesday, according to NBC affiliate Hawaii News Now. That ruling came hours before the federal government planned to start enforcing Trump's executive order.
Watson's ruling allows Hawaii's lawsuit to work its way through the courts.
The Trump administration had asked Mr. Watson to narrow that earlier restraining order to encompass no more than the visa suspension, arguing that the halt of the United States refugee program did not affect Hawaii.
Judge Watson granted the request from the state of Hawaii and an individual, agreeing with them that their arguments would likely succeed on First Amendment grounds.
On March 15, US District Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary block on Trump's revised order, which was created to last for about two weeks.
The Justice Department will probably appeal the ruling to the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the same court that upheld the order stopping Trump's original travel order.
Government lawyers argued that the revised travel ban was written to address the concerns raised by judges, which included the removal of the section that gave preference to religious minorities. Josh Blackman, an associate professor at the South Texas College of Law, said that's the implication of Watson's ruling. "Is this a mathematical exercise", Watson asked. The administration appealed that ruling, and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set a hearing for May 8 to consider it.
"Where the 'historical context and 'the specific sequence of events leading up to" the adoption of the challenged Executive Order are as full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext as is the record here, it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context", Watson wrote.
At this point, the only way the Trump administration is going to get the travel ban into effect is to get the Supreme Court to rule in its favor. If the court sides with the federal government, it would not have a direct effect on the Hawaii ruling, legal experts said. "Cases with splits in authority are cases the U.S. Supreme Court exists to resolve".