Media Contacts:
Domenica Ghanem, domenica@ips-dc.org, 202-787-5205
Phyllis Bennis, pbennis@ips-dc.org, (202) 787-5206

Yesterday, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked Donald Trump’s revised travel ban restricting immigrants and refugees from 6 majority-Muslim countries. This is the response from Institute for Policy Studies Middle East foreign policy expert Phyllis Bennis:

“A federal court judge in Hawaii, just three hours before Trump’s Muslim Ban 2.0 was to go into effect, granted a temporary order halting the key components of the new Executive Order.  The judge stopped the prohibition on entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries, stopped the four-month halt on refugee entrance, and reversed Trump’s effort to reduce the number refugees allowed into the US from 110,000 to only 50,000.

On its own, the decision is incredibly important, protecting thousands of potential visitors to the U.S.vulnerable refugees and family members of lawful residents among themfrom being excluded and facing far-reaching, potentially lethal consequences.

Federal Judge Derrick K. Watson used extraordinarily hard-hitting language, finding constitutional and legal violations in the executive order. He said “Irreparable injury is likely” if the restraining order was not issued, and that “the balance of the equities and public interest” required him to halt the Executive Order.

Crucially, the judge also determined that Trump’s Executive Order was in fact designed to exclude Muslims. The 43-page opinion included extensive quotes from Trump and Trump aides, both from the campaign period and since the inauguration, making clear that a Muslim ban was the intention, and that it was based on a strong anti-Muslim animus.

But beyond the individual impact of this determination, Judge Watson’s clear-sighted and forthright decision makes clear that U.S. judges, at least some of them, are finding the critical courage, strength of character, and support for the Constitution that is so vitally necessary in this dangerous moment.  

There’s little question that the expanse of protests across the countrymany of them run by local city-based organizers and mobilizers from a wide range of movementshave helped strengthen the backbone of judges standing up to these horrific policies. At IPS we’ve been focusing on supporting those city and state campaigns because when their individual efforts and victories cohere into something bigger, something national, we have a chance at big victories like this.

In recent years judges haven’t been tested by their willingness to stand up to a bullying, out-of-control executive branch that doesn’t care about the Constitution. Now, that test is emerging as a vital determination of judicial independence and strength—and so far, with Judge Watson’s ruling, the score is Justice: 2, White House: 0.

We stand with justice.”

Available for comment:

Phyllis Bennis, pbennis@ips-dc.org, 202 787 5206
Bennis has been analyzing U.S. Middle East and foreign policy for 40 years. She’s written 11 books, most recently Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror.

Phyllis Bennis is the director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.