| March 15
March 15 Court hearings in Hawaii and Maryland
on Wednesday could decide the immediate fate of President Donald
Trump's revised travel ban, which is set to take effect at 12:01
a.m. EDT (0401 GMT) on Thursday.
The courts have been asked in lawsuits challenging the ban
to issue restraining orders that would prevent it from taking
effect pending resolution of the litigation.
The new order, which temporarily bars the entry of most
refugees as well as travelers from six Muslim-majority
countries, was signed by the president on March 6, with a 10-day
lag before it took effect.
It replaced an earlier, broader order that was signed amid
much fanfare a week after Trump's Jan. 20 inauguration. The
first order temporarily banned travelers from seven countries in
addition to most refugees and took effect immediately, causing
chaos and protests at airports across the country and around the
States and civil rights groups filed more than two dozen
lawsuits against the first order, arguing it discriminated
against Muslims and violated the U.S. Constitution.
In response to a lawsuit by Washington state, a federal
judge in Seattle last month issued a nationwide halt to the
first order. That decision was upheld by a U.S. appeals court.
The Trump administration made changes in an attempt to
address the judges' concerns. But the states and civil rights
groups went back to court arguing the new ban did not solve the
problems and should be stopped.
'WHO WOULD BE HARMED?'
One central question likely to be raised at the hearings is
who would be harmed by the new ban. The administration in its
new order explicitly exempts legal permanent residents and
existing visa holders and provides a series of waivers for
various categories of immigrants with ties to the United States.
While the new order still bars citizens of Iran, Libya,
Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country for 90
days, Iraq is no longer on the list. Refugees are still barred
for 120 days, but an indefinite ban on all refugees from Syria
To succeed, the plaintiffs must show they have "standing" to
challenge the ban, which means they must have been harmed by the
If they get past that hurdle, the plaintiffs will argue that
both the new ban and the old discriminate on the basis of
religion and are unconstitutional.
The Trump administration disputes that allegation, citing as
evidence that many Muslim-majority countries are not included in
In the Hawaii case, the island state says its universities
and tourist economy would be harmed by the restrictions on
Hawaii also sued in conjunction with a plaintiff named
Ismail Elshikh, an American citizen from Egypt who is an imam at
the Muslim Association of Hawaii. Elshikh says his family will
be harmed if his mother-in-law, who lives in Syria, is
prevented from visiting because of the restrictions.
The government in its response to Hawaii said Elshikh had
not been harmed because the ban allows for waivers, and his
mother-in-law could apply for one.
In the Maryland case, the American Civil Liberties Union is
representing refugee resettlement agencies it says will be hurt
by the ban because it affects their operations. The ACLU adds
that some of the agencies' clients are in conflict zones and
face imminent danger even if they are only temporarily barred
from the United States.
"All of those exemptions and waivers were an effort to shore
up this discriminatory order after the fact," said Cecillia
Wang, ACLU deputy legal director told reporters on a conference
call with reporters.
(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg in New York and Dan Levine in
Honolulu; Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Greenbelt, Md.;
Editing by Sue Horton and Peter Cooney)