The new travel ban restricts citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the US for 90 days. Hawaii is the first state to challenge the travel ban in court.

The Hawaii federal court seal above a judge's bench in a courtroom on Monday, February 13, 2017, in Honolulu.
The Hawaii federal court seal above a judge's bench in a courtroom on Monday, February 13, 2017, in Honolulu.

The US state of Hawaii on Wednesday will ask a federal court to halt President Donald Trump's new executive order restricting travel from six Muslim-majority countries.

By doing this, Hawaii becomes the first US state to challenge the controversial ban in court.

The new order, dubbed Trump Travel Ban 2.0, is less strict than the first one issued in January.

It keeps a 90 day ban on travel to the US by citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen but excludes Iraq, and applies the restrictions only to new visa applicants.

Iraq was taken off the list in part because its government had imposed new vetting procedures.

Despite the changes, the ban is similar to its first version, and on Wednesday Hawaii will amend its existing lawsuit challenging the original executive order to contest the new one, according to a motion filed Tuesday at the Federal Court of Honolulu.

Rationale for ban & exemptions

Speaking after the new order was signed on Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it would take effect on March 16.

The delay aims to limit the kind of travel disruption and airport protests triggered by the original January 27 order before a US judge suspended it on February 3.

"It is the president's solemn duty to protect the American people," Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters after Trump signed the new order.

"As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually re-evaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country."

A White House official said the new executive order also ensures that tens of thousands of legal permanent residents in the United States – or green card holders – from the listed countries would now not be affected by the travel ban.

More than two dozen lawsuits were filed in US courts against the original travel ban.

The state of Washington had succeeded in having it suspended by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals by arguing that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

Trump had publicly criticised judges who ruled against him and vowed to fight the case in the Supreme Court, but later decided to draw up a new order with changes aimed at making it easier to defend in the courts.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies