A federal judge who blocked President Donald Trump's new travel ban is being offered protection by the FBI after threats to his safety.
In Honolulu, Hawaii, last Saturday 19 March Judge Derrick Watson rejected the Trump administration's attempts to stop his ruling halting Trump's executive order barring people from a handful of majority-Muslim nations from entering the US.
Watson ruled that the order signed by Trump early this month seeks to target Muslims and is akin to a Muslim ban the president proposed during the 2016 election campaign.
Trump rolled out the new ban early this month, to stop travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days and refugees for four months.
Iraq was left out of the new ban and changes were made to allow current visa and green-card holders to enter the country. The new order came after Trump's first attempt was roundly criticised for it's roll-out, with little warning or consultation that it was coming, leading to chaos at airports. It was also blocked in a federal court.
"The illogic of the government's contentions is palpable," Watson wrote after the government argued the new ban did not target all Muslims. "The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed," he said.
Since this ruling Watson has received threatening messages and Michele Ernst, an FBI spokeswoman, told CNN that the agency had been alerted and was willing to offer him more protection. Federal judges are routinely protected by the US Marshals Service, but security can be beefed up in cases of heightened threats.
Three federal judges in San Francisco, California, who ruled against Trump's first attempt at the Muslim nation travel ban in January were also threatened ahead of a ruling they made in February. In response, the US Marshals Service increased their patrols and number of officers protecting the judges.
"This is, in the opinion of many, an unprecedented judicial overreach," Trump told a rally of his supporters in Nashville, Tennessee, last week of Watson's ruling. Trump has vowed to fight for his executive order all the way to the Supreme Court and repeatedly called into question the integrity of the judiciary.
Trump's nominee for an empty seat on the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch – who is currently answering questions about his loyalty to the president and judicial impartiality in Senate confirmation hearings this week – has called Trump's attacks on the judiciary "disheartening."
On Thursday diplomatic cables sent by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that were seen by Reuters revealed the Trump administration has ordered US diplomatic missions to toughen screenings for visa applicants in "populations warranting increased scrutiny." Applicants who have been in territory controlled by the Islamic State (Isis) will also receive "mandatory social media checks."