Human rights and immigration advocates cheered early Thursday as President Donald Trump’s travel ban saw a second decisive legal defeat in a Maryland court.
The Maryland federal judge’s decision forbade the order’s central provision—a ban on immigration from six Muslim-majority countries—from going into effect, echoing the decision from a federal judge in Hawaii late Wednesday that found the ban was, in fact, the so-called “Muslim ban” promised by Trump multiple times on the campaign trail.
In the Hawaii decision, Judge Derrick K. Watson “flatly rejected the government’s argument that a court would have to investigate Mr. Trump’s ‘veiled psyche’ to deduce religious animus,” the New York Times reported:
He quoted extensively from the remarks by Mr. Trump that were cited in the lawsuit brought by Hawaii’s attorney general, Doug Chin.
“For instance, there is nothing ‘veiled’ about this press release,” Judge Watson wrote, quoting a Trump campaign document titled “is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
“If you plan to unconstitutionally target a group of people because of their faith, it’s a good idea not to run around the country announcing this fact,” as Ian Millhiser observed in ThinkProgress.
“This should come as no surprise. President Trump’s allegedly ‘new’ executive order banning Muslims isn’t new at all,” said Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.
“The President has taken the same ban, still based on his racist targeting of Muslims, and has put it inside a Trojan Horse that has crossed the border into unconstitutional terrain,” Goldstein continued. “But no matter how you wrap it, racism is still racism, and a ban targeting any group based on its religion still violates equal protection of the laws.”
In fact, Trump himself admitted that the second order was “a watered-down version of the first one” in a speech to supporters in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday evening.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) agreed, tweeting that “an illegal Muslim ban by another name is still an illegal Muslim ban.”
Turns out, an illegal Muslim ban by another name is still an illegal Muslim ban. So the courts just blocked @realDonaldTrump's second one.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 16, 2017
.@realDonaldTrump, your Muslim ban is now 0 for 2 vs the Constitution. Stop fighting the rule of law and start fighting for all Americans.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 16, 2017
After the Hawaii decision, Trump supporters urged each other to boycott Hawaii, sending the #BoycottHawaii hashtag trending on Twitter. But progressives, rights defenders, and immigration advocates immediately flooded the hashtag with support for the island state—and promises to book a vacation:
— Eric Rosswood (@LGBT_Activist) March 16, 2017
— AmnestyInternational (@amnestyusa) March 16, 2017
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 16, 2017
While defenders of human rights are celebrating, they are also preparing for the long legal battle against the Muslim ban to continue.
The Hawaii decision is “a preliminary decision, but it recognizes that there continue to be problems with the constitutionality of this revised order, particularly with discriminatory intent toward Muslims,” Betsy Fisher, policy director at the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, told the Times.
Trump was furious about the decision, promising the crowd in Nashville on Wednesday that “[w]e’re going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.”
That fight, however, might not be a pleasant one for Trump and his allies, the Times points out: “[T]he legal debate is likely to be a protracted and unusually personal fight for the administration, touching Mr. Trump and a number of his key aides directly and raising the prospect that their public comments and private communications will be scrutinized.”
Rights advocates are also reminding supporters that the battle against the Trump administration’s right-wing xenophobia has only begun.
“This isn’t the end of the fight,” wrote the ACLU Action Team in a statement. “Trump’s administration has made clear that they will continue to target and discriminate against Muslims, refugees, immigrants, and other vulnerable individuals and communities. Ramping up ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] raids and border patrol, and promises to build a wall, are tactics to sanction a culture of fear, hate, and violence.”
And so to help immigrants and refugees who may face anti-Muslim discrimination in airports and at the U.S. border, the ACLU is distributing “Know Your Rights” information in multiple languages. “Knowing them is crucial, now more than ever,” the ACLU Action Team said.
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