Friday, March 24, 2017

Hawaiian judge who blocked Muslim ban receiving threats

THE JUDGE who ruled against Donald Trump's executive order restricting travel from six predominantly Muslim countries, is receiving additional protection because of threats against him.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson
The FBI declined to provide additional details Wednesday, (March 22) on the investigation on the threats against U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson. 

The U.S. Marshals Service, which is spearheading the investigation, said it does not discuss specific security measures.

U.S. Marshals Service is responsible for the protection of federal judicial officials, including judges and prosecutors, and we take that responsibility very seriously," the agency said in a statement.

"While we do not discuss our specific security measures, we continuously review the security measures in place for all federal judges and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted."

The U.S. Marshals Service has flown in about a dozen deputies from the mainland to provide 24-hour protection to Watson, whose order blocked the president's travel ban from taking effect.

Former federal agent Tommy Aiu told CNN it's not unusual for additional deputies to be brought in to help the local U.S. Marshals office with protection needs.

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"The U.S. Marshals service will do a critical risk assessment, look at the threat, make an analysis, and determine the level of protection needed," he said.

Watson issued the order last Wednesday to temporarily block enforcement of the ban, just hours before it was to take effect. The ban would have frozen immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days.

Watson's ruling thrust Hawaii into the center of a polarizing debate over immigration reform, which have spurred nationwide protests against the Muslim ban.

Conservative social media activists tried to launch #BoycottHawaii, but considering that Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million, the boycott attempt might be backfiring.

Last week, Watson ordered a stop to Trump's 90-day ban on travel into the U.S. by citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and a 120-day pause on refugee resettlement from any country. The Hawaii-born judge also stopped the government's attempt to cap refugee resettlement and the compiling of a series of government studies and reports on how refugees and foreign visitors to the U.S. are vetted.

On Sunday, Watson told federal lawyers upheld his ruling despite a request from federal lawyers to scale back his decision that found the travel ban to discriminate against Muslims to match a narrower ruling against it issued by a federal court in Maryland. The DOJ attorneys said the judge should limit his ruling to the six-country ban. 

Watson responded on Sunday: "The motion, in other words, asks the court to make a distinction that the federal defendants' previous briefs and arguments never did. As important, there is nothing unclear about the scope of the court's order…. The federal defendants' motion is denied."