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Federal judge in Virginia sides with Trump on revised travel ban

“Fortunately, this decision does not alter the injunctions that are already [in place]," an immigration advocate said Friday.

By Doug G. Ware
Federal judge in Virginia sides with Trump on revised travel ban
Activists protest against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban outside the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Washington, D.C., on March 7. Friday, a federal judge in a Virginia case ruled that the president's executive order is constitutional. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

March 24 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's revised immigration order, which suspends immigrants and refugees from entering the United States, found a rare victory in Virginia federal court on Friday.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ruled in favor of the president's revised executive order, which has already been blocked by two other courts, handing the White House a small win in the contentious immigration fight.

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In his ruling, Trenga said the revised order is different enough from the original that injunctions granted against the first action are no longer applicable.

"It is no longer likely that Plaintiffs can succeed on their claim that the predominate purpose of [executive order 2] is to discriminate against Muslims based on their religion and that [the order] is a pretext or a sham for that purpose," the judge wrote.

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Earlier this month, Trump's revised order -- designed to stand up to legal scrutiny -- was blocked by courts in Maryland and Hawaii on the grounds that it seeks the same type of discriminatory justification as the first order.

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Friday, Trenga disagreed with that assessment.

"The President has provided a detailed justification for the Order based on national security needs, and enjoining the operation of EO-2 would interfere with the President's unique constitutional responsibilities to conduct international relations, provide for the national defense, and secure the nation," he wrote.

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"This Court is no longer faced with a facially discriminatory order coupled with contemporaneous statements suggesting discriminatory intent. And while the President and his advisors have continued to make statements following the issuance of EO-1 that have characterized or anticipated the nature of EO-2, the Court cannot conclude for the purposes of the Motion that these statements, together with the President's past statements, have effectively disqualified him from exercising his lawful presidential authority."

The judge's ruling is limited in what it allows Trump's order to do. Most provisions remain blocked by court order.

The plaintiffs, activists affiliated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, promised an appeal.

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"Fortunately, this decision does not alter the injunctions that are already preventing the implementation of the Trump administration's illegal 'Muslim ban 2.0' executive order," CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri said in a statement. "We look forward to the Fourth Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court weighing in on this matter, as those are the judicial bodies that will ultimately decide whether the Constitution protects the rights of Muslim Americans."

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The Hawaii judge who issued one of the injunctions, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson , is now the focus of 24-hour protection from federal authorities after he began to receive death threats.

The U.S. Marshals Service is providing Watson protection and the FBI has offered to assist.

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