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Image credit: ERIC THAYER / Reuters

Federal judge temporarily suspends the revised travel ban

More than 50 tech companies filed an amicus brief today supporting Hawaii's lawsuit against the ban.
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ERIC THAYER / Reuters

A federal judge in Hawaii has halted President Donald Trump's immigration ban targeting six majority-Muslim nations, just one day before the order was scheduled to take effect. The technology industry has been a leading voice of opposition to a proposed travel ban, and this morning 58 companies signed an amicus brief in support of Hawaii's lawsuit.

The executive order bars citizens of Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Syria from traveling to the United States, though this does not apply to green card holders or those with visas. The administration says these are "countries of concern due to the national security risks associated with their instability and the prevalence of terrorist fighters in their territories."

The travel ban also suspends the US refugee program for 120 days, and reduces the number of refugees allowed to enter the country this year from 110,000 to 50,000. Trump signed the order on March 6th and it was due to be enacted on March 16th.

The state of Hawaii claims the travel ban hurts the state's tourism industry while damaging its ability to recruit students, employees and faculty members from the named countries. Hawaii also argues the ban violates the First Amendment's establishment clause, which prohibits the government from favoring one religion. The state says the travel ban is essentially a ban on Muslims, something that Trump called for specifically during the campaign.

This is the Trump administration's second attempt at implementing an immigration ban, and the second time a lawsuit has halted its progress. Trump signed the first executive order on January 27th and it went into effect immediately, causing chaos and confusion at many airports nationwide. Protesters and volunteer immigration lawyers flocked to airports, and lawsuits challenging the ban popped up across the country.

One of these original lawsuits, brought by the state of Washington, led to the ban being frozen. A federal appeals court upheld the stay in a unanimous decision on February 9th.

Meanwhile, leaders in the technology industry expressed their outrage at the ban, hosting walk-outs and speaking publicly about its negative impact on Silicon Valley. More than 120 tech companies signed an amicus brief against the original executive order. A number of companies that signed the first amicus brief -- including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Spotify and Netflix -- haven't signed the second in support of Hawaii's efforts, though big names including Lyft, Airbnb and Dropbox have.

Hawaii's lawsuit draws from Washington's original legal challenge, which asserted there was "shocking evidence of intent to discriminate against Muslims" by the Trump administration, including public statements from the president and his aides. It also argued the state could sue on behalf of its citizens, who would suffer financial and emotional harm under the ban, and on behalf of universities that would lose access to students and faculty.

Hawaii argues similarly.

"Plaintiffs allege that the Executive Order subjects portions of the State's population... to discrimination in violation of both the Constitution and the INA, denying them their right, among other things, to associate with family members overseas on the basis of their religion and national origin," Hawaii's argument reads. "The State purports that the Executive Order has injured its institutions, economy, and sovereign interest in maintaining the separation between church and state."

Today, US District Judge Derrick K. Watson froze the executive order nationwide.

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