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Judge maintains broad block on Trump travel ban

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The judge says President Donald Trump's revised ban still appeared to be driven by anti-Muslim sentiment. | Getty

'The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has,' the judge says.

By Josh Gerstein

03/30/17 12:13 AM EDT

Updated 03/30/17 12:44 AM EDT

A judge in Hawaii has extended a broad block on President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, turning aside pleas from the federal government to narrow or drop an earlier order forbidding the president from implementing key parts of his plan.

In a ruling Wednesday , U.S. District Court Judge Derrick Watson converted the temporary restraining order he issued into a preliminary injunction. He did not alter his earlier instruction that the federal government be barred from implementing a ban on issuance of visas to citizens of six majority-Muslim countries and from carrying out a plan to suspend refugee admissions worldwide.

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Although Trump redrafted an earlier version of the executive order that was blocked by other federal courts, Watson said the revised version still appeared to be driven by anti-Muslim sentiment. And he again flatly rejected the Justice Department's calls to ignore Trump's public statements about seeking a ban on immigration and travel from Muslim countries in order to fend off terrorism.

"Where the 'historical context and "the specific sequence of events leading up to"' the adoption of the challenged Executive Order are as full of religious animus, invective, and obvious pretext as is the record here, it is no wonder that the Government urges the Court to altogether ignore that history and context," Watson wrote. "The Court, however, declines to do so. ... The Court will not crawl into a corner, pull the shutters closed, and pretend it has not seen what it has."

After the judge blocked Trump's revised order two weeks ago, the president told a crowd in Nashville that the new directive amounted to “a watered-down version of the first one.” Watson cited that statement in his ruling Wednesday.

The judge said he was sensitive to concerns that Trump's public remarks from the presidential campaign and since taking office should not forever preclude him from taking necessary security steps, but that the Justice Department had failed to show a bona fide difference in the motivation behind the second executive order.

"The Court recognizes that it is not the case that the Administration’s past conduct must forever taint any effort by it to address the security concerns of the nation," Watson wrote. "Based upon the preliminary record available, however, one cannot conclude that the actions taken during the interval between [the] revoked Executive Order .. and the new Executive Order represent 'genuine changes in constitutionally significant conditions.'"

Watson also specifically declined to rein in his decision to cover only the 90-day ban on visa issuance, saying that the federal government's request that he do so "makes little sense" and that federal officials failed to provide a clear way for him

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North Carolina lawmakers announce deal to repeal bathroom law

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House Bill 142, which repeal House Bill 2, would be introduced to the Senate floor Thursday morning. | Getty

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Wary Democrats look to Kelly for answers on immigration

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly sought to mollify senators who have for weeks been outraged by the Trump administration’s hard-edged immigration policies. | AP Photo

Senate Democrats wanted reassurances from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

By Ted Hesson and Seung Min Kim

03/29/17 09:13 PM EDT

Senate Democrats met with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on Wednesday to seek reassurances that there would be boundaries to President Donald Trump’s plan to intensify immigration enforcement.

In some cases, Kelly delivered. The former Marine general told senators that border agents would not separate mothers and children at the border, unless a mother was sick or injured. He also said his department would not target enrollees in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, which grants deportation relief to undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age.

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But an undercurrent of frustration ran through the meeting, according to interviews with roughly half the more than 20 senators in attendance.

Privately, Kelly sought to mollify senators who have for weeks been outraged by the Trump administration’s hard-edged immigration policies. During the meeting at the Capitol, which lasted nearly two hours, the DHS secretary told Democrats that the administration was still mainly targeting for deportation those who had committed crimes, and that they didn’t even have the manpower to deport all undocumented immigrants in the country, according to one senator.

Several Democrats weren’t convinced, including Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “Basically, even though the secretary portrays that we’re only going after the bad apples, and criminals and this and that, the reality is — I pointed out to him — that his new memo on priorities makes everybody technically eligible for deportation,” Menendez said in an interview after the meeting. “He didn’t deny that.”

Several other senators echoed that sentiment.

“Frustration would be a good word,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “He stated that he was not separating children from their parents, but that’s not been our experience.” On the topic of keeping families together, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said, “He didn’t guarantee it.”

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Kelly generally affirmed his positions on families at the border and DACA enrollees. He also called on members of Congress to change laws if they don’t agree with them. “They may not like what I have to say, in terms of how we’re doing business, but they deserve as elected representatives of the people to hear what I have to say,” he said. “Honest men and women should be able to disagree on a lot of things and we do.”

Of the DACA program, Kelly said both the government and individuals have an obligation to honor the terms of the policy. “The DACA status is a commitment, not only by the government towards the DACA person, or the so-called Dreamer, but by that person to obey the law,” Kelly said. “I don’t care what you read, or what people say, we have not, in my time picked up someone

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Seattle sues Trump over 'sanctuary cities'

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“Seattle will not be bullied by this White House or this administration and today we are taking legal action against President Trump’s unconstitutional order,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. | Getty

Seattle filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration Wednesday, charging that President Donald Trump’s executive order threatening funding for “sanctuary cities” is “unconstitutional and ambiguous,” and violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.

Mayors and police chiefs from around the country gathered in Washington on Wednesday to meet with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and complain about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ warning that cities which do not fully comply with immigration laws could see tens of millions in federal funding disappear.

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Pulling funding would lead to a spike in crime, mayors have argued, and would be a punishment for not breaking any laws — they say the law does not require municipal authorities to report immigration status to the federal government, and that anyway, the term “sanctuary city” is too broad to account for each city’s different approach to undocumented immigrants.

They argue that the chilling effect has already led to immigrants being too scared to report committed crimes, and instilled unnecessary fear.

“Seattle will not be bullied by this White House or this administration and today we are taking legal action against President Trump’s unconstitutional order,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, announcing the suit. “We have the law on our side: the federal government cannot compel our police department to enforce federal immigration law and cannot use our federal dollars to coerce Seattle into turning our backs on our immigrant and refugee communities. We simply won’t do it.”

Murray did not attend the mayors’ meeting with Kelly in Washington, D.C. But after that meeting on Wednesday, DHS spokesman David Lapan said that the administration was aware that lawsuits might be coming, but hadn’t done advance preparation for them, despite expectations of being brought to court.

“As you’d imagine, every day there are potential suits against the department for any number of things, so we generally wait to see the facts as they come forward,” Lapan said.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, the Republican president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said that he believed that DHS is starting to understand the problems with attempting the kind of crackdown the executive order seems to project.

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“Police chiefs and police departments are pretty much in alignment in how things have been going and the way things are executed today, and I think Secretary Kelly is in alignment with that,” Cornett said after the meeting.

But he said he’s open to joining lawsuits, either as the mayor of his own city or the Conference president, depending on what the administration demands in terms of detainment.

“Yeah, there might be constitutional issues, especially on the containment side,” Cornett said.

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