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Federal judge in Maryland says he will issue ruling on Trump travel ban

Trump signed the new executive order barring new visas for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries and shutting down the U.S. refugee program in private. http://bit.ly/2n6VKPR

A federal judge in Maryland says he will issue a ruling in a lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump's revised travel ban.

However, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang did not promise that he would rule before the ban takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. He also said Wednesday he may issue a narrow ruling that does not address the ban nationwide.

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The lawsuit in Maryland was filed by the ACLU and other groups representing immigrants and refugees, as well as some individual plaintiffs. They argue banning travel from six majority-Muslim countries is unconstitutional discrimination on the basis of religion. They also say it's illegal for Trump to reduce the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year by more than half.

Government lawyers argued the ban was revised significantly to address legal concerns and no longer singles out Muslims.

The Latest on legal challenges to the Trump administration's revised travel ban (all times Eastern):

12:30 p.m.

Legal efforts to overturn President Donald Trump's travel ban now shift to Honolulu, where a hearing will be held later Wednesday.

The lawsuit claims the ban harms Hawaii by highlighting the state's dependence on international travelers, its ethnic diversity and its welcoming reputation as the Aloha State.

Hawaii's lawsuit includes a Muslim plaintiff, Ismail Elshikh, the imam of a Honolulu mosque. He says the ban prevents his mother-in-law, who lives in Syria, from visiting family in Hawaii.

In response, the Justice Department says Hawaii's claims are mere speculation.

It's not clear when U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson will rule on the state's request for a temporary restraining order.

Hawaii Attorney General Douglas Chin plans to argue before the court, but attorneys from the Washington, D.C., law firm Hawaii has hired will participate by phone. Justice Department attorneys are also expected to phone in for the hearing.

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11:20 a.m.

The Seattle federal judge who blocked President Donald Trump's original travel ban will hear a challenge to the new order by an immigrant rights group.

U.S. District Judge James Robart will hear arguments Wednesday in the lawsuit brought by the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. The group says the new version of the travel ban discriminates against Muslims and raises the same legal issues as the original.

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Robart also is overseeing the legal challenge brought by Washington state. He also issued the order halting nationwide implementation of the first ban. Among the plaintiffs in the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project case is a legal permanent resident who has been trying to bring her 16-year-old son from war-torn Syria.

The Trump administration says it believes its revised order is legal. The travel ban is scheduled to go into effect next Thursday.

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10:50 a.m.

Airbnb, Lyft and Wikimedia are among 58 technology companies backing a lawsuit seeking to block the Trump administration's revised travel ban from taking effect.

The tech companies signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief filed in federal court on Tuesday claiming the White House's planned travel restrictions "would inflict significant and irreparable harm on U.S. businesses and their employees, stifling the growth of the United States' most prominent industries."

The filing supported a legal challenge from the state of Hawaii, which is trying to derail Trump's executive order affecting travelers from six Muslim-majority nations.

The tech companies signed onto the new brief also include Kickstarter, Dropbox Inc., Electronic Arts, Meetup, Pintrest, Square and TripAdvisor. Last month, nearly 100 tech companies signed a similar amicus brief opposing Trump's first proposed travel ban.

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9:30 a.m.

Virginia's attorney general is supporting Hawaii's lawsuit against President Donald Trump's revised travel ban.

Attorney General Mark Herring said in a statement Tuesday that he joined 13 other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief Monday in the District Court for Hawaii. Hawaii has asked for a temporary restraining order blocking the enforcement of the revised travel ban. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday.

The attorneys general argue that the revised ban retains the unconstitutional components of the original order, including a broad ban on entry by nationals from several predominantly Muslim countries and a suspension of the refugee program.

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Busy day in court

Hawaii will argue that the new order will harm its Muslim population, tourism and foreign students. Ismail Elshikh, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the ban will prevent his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting.

The federal government will argue that the allegations are pure speculation. Justice Department lawyers also say the president is authorized to restrict or suspend entry into the United States.

In Washington state, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is pushing for a hearing before Judge James Robart, who halted the original ban last month. Ferguson wants Robart to apply the ruling to the new ban.

Ferguson says the new order is unconstitutional and harms residents, universities and businesses, especially tech companies such as Washington state-based Microsoft and Amazon who rely on foreign workers. California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon have joined the claim. Federal lawyers say the revised travel ban is "substantially different" from the original directive.

Immigrant advocacy groups and the ACLU are also suing in Maryland. They will ask a judge there early Wednesday to issue an injunction, saying it's illegal to reduce the number of refugees in the middle of a fiscal year. The lawsuit is broader, but the ACLU expects a ruling on that part of the case even if other aspects of the ban are blocked elsewhere.

Old vs. new ban

Washington and Hawaii say the order is an effort to carry out the Muslim ban Trump promised during his campaign and is a violation of the First Amendment, which bars the government from favoring or disfavoring any religion. On that point, they say, the new ban is no different than the old.

They point to statements by Trump's advisers, including former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said Trump asked him how to implement a Muslim ban legally, and Stephen Miller, who said the revised order was designed to have "the same basic policy outcome" as the first.

The new version tries to erase the notion that it was designed to target Muslims by detailing more of a national security rationale. It is narrower and eases some concerns about violating the due process rights of travelers.

It applies only to new visas from Somalia, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and Yemen and temporarily shuts down the U.S. refugee program. It does not apply to travelers who already have visas.

The states' First Amendment claim has not been resolved. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to reinstate the original ban but didn't rule on the discrimination claim.

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Some legal scholars have said the order does not apply to all Muslims or even all predominantly Muslim nations — a point 9th Circuit Judge Richard Clifton made during arguments in Washington's case.

Does the president have the authority?

The administration says the travel ban is about national security. The revised order specifies that people from the listed countries "warrant additional scrutiny in connection with our immigration policies because the conditions in these countries present heightened threats."

But intelligence analysts at the Department of Homeland Security have questioned that rationale, concluding that citizenship is an "unlikely indicator" of terrorist ties.

In addition, the states and civil liberties groups say U.S. immigration law generally prohibits the government from discriminating based on nationality when issuing immigrant visas. The president cannot rewrite that law by executive order, the states say.

Are the states the right ones to sue?

Some legal scholars have questioned whether states have standing to bring their cases, citing limits the Supreme Court has placed on when states can sue the federal government.

Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford Law School, has said he is "highly skeptical" that states can sue over this issue.

The 9th Circuit panel found that Washington and Minnesota, which is part of the original lawsuit, did have standing, at least at that early stage. The judges noted that some people would not enroll in universities or join the faculty, causing real harm for the states.

Hawaii focuses on an additional aspect: the loss of tourism, and thus tax dollars, in the heavily travel-dependent state.

"I don't think standing's a serious problem," said Rory Little, a former Supreme Court clerk who teaches at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. "There's clearly harm to state budgets, harm to state universities."

Associated Press writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed from Honolulu.

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