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Federal judge in Seattle may still rule on revised travel ban despite decision in Hawaii

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SEATTLE – A Seattle-based immigrant rights group and the Washington state Attorney General’s Office voiced their anti-travel ban litigation in a federal court hearing Wednesday.

It was a three-part hearing. First, the attorney general’s office asked U.S. District Court Judge James Robart to apply his previous temporary restraining order on President Donald Trump’s first travel ban to the revised one. Robart denied that request.

Then, the AG’s office asked for a new temporary restraining order on the revised travel ban. And in a separate action, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project asked the judge to stop the revised travel ban from taking effect. The judge did not rule on either of the last requests Wednesday. Instead, he opted to go over the arguments and provide a written ruling at a later date and time.

Meanwhile, a federal judge in Honolulu on Wednesday afternoon imposed a temporary restraining order on Trump's revised travel ban.

At the heart of all the court action in Seattle were the families who say this travel ban would split them apart or stop them from reuniting.

“We talked about Mrs. Dahman, who has a 16-year-old boy who’s from Syria and he’s already been kidnapped once and he’s already faced grave threats to his life,” said the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project's Matt Adams.

In a sworn statement, a local mother originally from Syria who is now a lawful permanent resident, Reema Khaled Dahman, wrote, “I cannot leave my two sons in the United States and go back to Syria. But I also cannot take my sons to live in the midst of a war that never seems to come to an end. It is an impossible situation. I hope I can see my son soon."

Adams said, “So every additional week in which he’s separated and doesn’t have the opportunity to move forward with the process causes great hardship for her and her child."

Because of that, you could see relief outside the federal courthouse when word came down a judge in Hawaii granted that state’s request for a restraining order nationwide.

“There were significant changes that we think are positive. Obviously, we still believe the revised executive order is unconstitutional and unlawful and the judge in Hawaii agreed,” said Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

But Adams said there are still some questions about the federal government’s intentions in the new order.

“They did not plan to stop scheduling interviews for immigrant visas. That’s not how they responded to the first executive order and so I think the judge rightfully wanted to know what’s the distinction between going forward with the visa issuance and being barred from entry,” said Adams.

Ferguson said although the judge in Seattle has more questions and didn’t offer a ruling, the decision coming out of Hawaii now means Trump’s second travel ban will not go into effect immediately. The travel ban was supposed to take effect shortly after midnight EDT (9:01 p.m. PDT Wednesday).

“Bottom line, that’s fantastic news,” said Ferguson.

Robart may still decide to issue his own ruling.  If it’s different than what happened in Hawaii, Ferguson says, it may make for an easier case for the federal government to ask the appellate courts to weigh in.