A trio of federal appellate judges in San Francisco on Monday ruled against President Donald Trump's second try at imposing a so-called "travel ban" that would restrict refugees and people from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S.
Because the Ninth Circuit panel found that the order was in violation of federal immigration statutes, the judges declined to wade into the issue of whether the travel ban is an unconstitutional manifestation of Trump's alleged animus toward Islam, as the Hawaii plaintiffs and other challengers have contended. It ruled based on immigration law, not the Constitution. A three-judge panel heard oral arguments on that case last month.
The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit kept in place a lower court injunction on the ban, arguing the president had overstepped his authority and his executive order discriminated against travelers based on their nationality.
Quoting the report, it added that citizens from the countries targeted by Trump's ban are "rarely implicated in US-based terrorism".
The judges pointed to a June 6 tweet by Trump saying the order was aimed at "dangerous countries".
After that order was blocked by courts, the White House issued a second executive order, omitting references to religion and specifically exempting green card holders.
She said she did not expect the Supreme Court to consider the case before the fall, making it hard for the administration to defend its argument that the travel ban was urgently needed.
"We continue to be confident that the president's executive order to protect this country is fully lawful", he said, "and ultimately will be upheld by the Supreme Court".
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He says "these are very risky times" and the USA needs "every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence".
The state of Hawaii, one of the jurisdictions challenging the ban, said in court papers filed Monday before the Supreme Court that Trump's order had had "staggering" consequences. But the court pared back part of Watson's injunction in order to allow the government to conduct internal reviews on vetting procedures for these travelers. But administration officials avoided calling the travel restriction a "ban" after critics claimed it was akin to a "Muslim ban". In that ruling, the lower court argued that statements made by President Trump and his advisers show that his executive order amounts to an attempt to target Muslims for discriminatory treatment.
"The Order does not tie these nationals in any way to terrorist organizations within the six designated countries", they wrote. "In short, the order does not provide a rationale explaining why permitting entry of nationals from the six designated countries under current protocols would be detrimental to the interests of the United States". The high court is likely to consider the cases in tandem.
In March, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii blocked the new version from taking effect, citing what he called "significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus" in Trump's campaign statements. That one was challenged by lawsuits and blocked by injunctions before it ever went into effect.
A revised executive order announced in March - meant to address the issues raised by the federal judges - deleted Iraq from the list and removed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees. The judges were not directly ruling on the merits of the travel ban itself; however, to evaluate whether the injunction was appropriate, they had to weigh the probable impact of the travel ban and the likelihood that a case against it would succeed.
Trump's executive order also temporarily puts a halt to America's refugee program and reduces the number of refugees to be admitted this year to 50,000, instead of the 110,000 planned by the Obama administration.
On May 25, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled 10-3 against the travel ban of nationals from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.