White House says travel ban is 'fully lawful'

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2017

A second federal appeals court refused on Monday to revive US President Donald Trump's travel ban on people entering the United States from six Muslim-majority nations, in a dispute headed to the US Supreme Court.

"Indeed, the president recently confirmed his assessment that it is the "countries" that are inherently risky, rather than the 180 million individual nationals of those countries who are barred from entry under the president's 'travel ban, '" the judges wrote.

"National security is not a "talismanic incantation" that, once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power", the judges wrote.

The majority of those judges found that Trump's executive order "drips with religious intolerance" and that "the reasonable observer would likely conclude that EO-2's primary goal is to exclude persons from the United States on the basis of their religious beliefs".

He was reacting to Monday's ruling by a three- judge bench of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit against the revised travel ban.

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.

Judges Michael Hawkins, Ronald Gould and Richard Paez - all appointed by President Bill Clinton - said the travel ban violated immigration law by discriminating against people based on their nationality when it comes to issuing visas and by failing to demonstrate that their entry would hurt American interests.

He also said the administration - which has already asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and reinstate the revised travel ban - looks forward to hearing from the high court on the issue.

Both courts were broadly skeptical of the government's argument that the president - who has wide latitude on issues of immigration - was well within his rights to issue the executive order. The 9 Circuits freeze does apply to the refugee order to temporarily suspend the admission or lower the cap to 50,000 for the fiscal year.

"I have to say I'm more cautiously optimistic", Chin said.

The White House predicted a win at the Supreme Court. The justices have a range of options in front of them.

Gov. David Ige said Hawaii's decision to challenge the travel ban was vindicated by the 9th Circuit.

Unlike the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which shot down the President's revised travel ban on constitutional grounds last month, the Ninth Circuit was persuaded by statutory claims under the federal Immigration and Nationality Act.

The court typically also has the last word when a federal court strikes down a law or presidential order.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said after Monday's ruling that the ban was necessary to protect national security, and the president was within his lawful authority to enact it.

"The executive branch is entrusted with the responsibility to keep the country safe under Article II of the Constitution", Sessions said in a statement.

Reacting to the latest ruling, White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the executive order, saying "we need every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence".

He says "these are very risky times" and the US needs "every available tool at our disposal to prevent terrorists from entering the United States and committing acts of bloodshed and violence".

"The executive is free to engage in any manner of study, review, upgrade or revision of its existing vetting procedures", Katyal wrote, as he urged the justices to uphold the injunction against the travel ban. As a result, they found the order is probably unconstitutional.

The administration has appealed another ruling against the ban to the Supreme Court, which is likely to consider the cases in tandem.

The 9th Circuit sided with the state of Hawaii in deciding that the ban should stay on hold as the cases against it move through the courts.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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