Lawyers debate latest Trump travel ban before federal judge

People march as they participate in the'#NoMuslimBanEver rally in downtown Los Angeles California

A federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday granted a temporary restraining order against President Donald Trump's third travel ban, just hours before it was set to take effect at midnight on October 18.

The third ban came in a September 24 presidential proclamation that Trump issued after acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke provided him with a classified report recommending the travel restrictions.

Opponents say the ban violates the U.S. Constitution because it discriminates against Muslims while overstepping the bounds of U.S. immigration law by discriminating by nationality.

As with Trump's earlier two attempts at a travel ban, the central question will be whether animosity toward Muslims is a reason for the order. In Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups are seeking to block the visa and entry restrictions in the president's latest proclamation.

"It excludes over 100 million people, and it actually makes it worse by extending the ban indefinitely", he said.

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The administration is nearly certain to appeal, and the case could again reach the U.S. Supreme Court. Mooppan declined to discuss details of the classified report, and said the government does not have to explain whether Trump's advisers disagreed about the ban.

Other courts are weighing challenges to the policy.

"There's not a shred of evidence, not a shred of evidence, that Department of Homeland Security or the secretary of state has any animus", Mooppan said, adding that the restrictions are also meant to put pressure on foreign governments to improve their information-sharing efforts. He cited Iraq and Sudan, which both have been dropped from earlier versions of the ban, as evidence. Iranians, for example, won't be eligible for immigrant, tourism or business visas, but remain eligible for student and cultural exchange visas if they undergo additional scrutiny.

"There is strong evidence that this isn't some sort of Muslim ban in disguise", Mooppan said. Meanwhile, an attorney for the government argued that the restrictions are based on a months-long review, and are not discriminatory.

Legal analysts have said those challenging the latest travel ban face an uphill battle.

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