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Second federal judge blocks Trump's new travel ban

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo taken on March 15, 2017 shows a woman entering the US District Court, Southern District of Maryland, in Greenbelt, Maryland, where judges heard challenges to US President Trump's Executive Order travel ban. (Photo by AFP)

A second US federal judge has blocked President Donald Trump's newest travel ban, saying it has basically targeted Muslims in violation of the US Constitution.

Maryland federal judge Theodore Chuang said Wednesday the travel ban on citizens from six majority-Muslim countries and North Korea, and on many officials from Venezuela, essentially had not changed from the first two versions, which were also blocked in lower courts for discriminating against a single religion.

The judge cited various statements made by Trump, including his 2015 call for a “total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States.”

"To the extent that the Government might have provided additional evidence to establish that national security is now the primary purpose for the travel ban, it has not done so," Chuang wrote.

On Tuesday, Federal District Court Judge Derrick Watson for the District of Hawaii issued a nationwide order blocking the third version of Trump’s controversial travel ban, calling it discriminatory and in breach of immigration law.

Together, the pair of rulings are a prelude to a battle over the president’s executive authority that is expected to wind up again before the US Supreme Court.

Trump has issued three travel bans since coming to office in January. His third ban was announced September 24 and takes effect October 18.

Trump issued the new order to replace an expiring 90-day temporary ban on travelers from the Muslim-majority nations of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

The new ban removes Sudan from the list of affected countries and adds Chad and North Korea, along with several officials from the government of Venezuela. Iraq, which was included in the first travel ban, was removed from the list in the revised second ban.

In June, the US Supreme Court granted the Trump administration’s request to reinstate parts of the second travel ban, after months of legal battle between the government and some states in federal courts.

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