Government attorney Chad Readler said halting the flow of refugees had no effect on Hawaii and the state has not shown how it is harmed by the ban.
A federal judge in Hawaii questioned government attorneys Wednesday who urged him to narrow his order blocking President Donald Trump's travel ban because suspending the nation's refugee program has no effect on the state.
A White House spokesman says a Hawaii ruling blocking President Donald Trump's travel ban is just the latest step that will allow the administration to appeal. And the new order made clear that nationals of those six countries with valid visas or legal permanent residence (known as green cards) would not be restricted from traveling.
Watson's ruling is an affirmation of America's value of religious freedom and allows Muslims and refugees to face less uncertainty, the state attorney general's office said in a statement.
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But Watson's earlier decision was only a limited freeze of the executive order through a temporary restraining order.
Then, if that court rules in favor of the government, Hawaii could appeal that decision, which could send the case to the Supreme Court. Trump had said the updated order would be tailored to address objections of judges who barred enforcement of the original one.
The Department of Justice opposed Hawaii's request to extend Watson's temporary order. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson is hearing arguments on whether to extend his temporary order until Hawaii's lawsuit works its way through the courts.
President Trump's executive order signed on March 6, would have placed a 90 day ban on people from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen and a 120 day ban on refugees.
That argument failed to persuade the judge, who noted that it came only after a federal judge in Maryland, in issuing a separate block of the visa suspension, said it was unclear whether the refugee ban was also motivated by religious bias.
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The Trump administration argued both travel bans were meant to enhance USA security - not discriminate against Muslims.
Local media said the Justice Department is likely to appeal the ruling immediately to the San Francisco, California-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, although it is unclear how long it will take to complete that process.
CNN reported on March 27 that normally, such an appeal would be heard by a randomly assigned panel of three judges on the appeals court.
The Trump administration is appealing the decision, with its first hearing before the Fourth Circuit Court set for May 8. That division in the courts all but ensures that the case will end up before the Supreme Court, which remains short-handed following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
The Trump administration's best bet for saving the travel ban is to have the case go before the U.S. Supreme Court, said Richard Primus, a professor of constitutional law at the University of MI law school.
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