9th Circuit next stop for Trump immigration battle


A federal appeals court in San Francisco will hear arguments at 3 p.m. Tuesday on whether to reinstate a ban ordered by President Trump on admitting visitors and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries to the United States.

The U.S. Justice Department, representing the Trump administration, has asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for an emergency stay of a lower court order temporarily blocking the ban.

The Justice Department claims the temporary restraining order, handed down Friday by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, “improperly second-guessed the president’s national security determinations.”

Trump issued the travel ban in an executive order on Jan. 27, saying that its purpose was to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals.

The ban would bar visitors and refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days, stop refugees from all countries for 120 days and exclude Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Robart ruled in a lawsuit filed by the states of Washington and Minnesota, which claim the ban “unleashed chaos” and would harm the states’ residents, universities and economies.

The Justice Department on Saturday asked the appeals court for an immediate stay of the temporary restraining order.

The court refused on the same day to grant an immediate stay, but set a rapid briefing schedule with final briefs by the states and the Justice Department due at 1 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday respectively.

Shortly after receiving the Justice Department’s final brief this afternoon, a three-judge panel of the appeals court announced it would conduct a telephone hearing on the case on Tuesday.

The panel has no deadline to rule on the stay but is expected to act quickly following the hearing.

Its decision could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which currently has a 4-4 split of conservative and liberal justices.

If left in place by the higher courts, the temporary restraining order would remain in effect until Robart decides whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the ban.

Also today, 127 technology companies, including many from Silicon Valley, filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the states.

The companies’ brief argues that Trump’s executive order “threatens companies’ ability to attract talent, business, and investment to the United States.”

Companies signing the brief include Adobe Systems, Airbnb, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Levi Strauss, Lyft, Microsoft, Twitter, Uber and Yelp.

The state of California joined 14 other states and the District of Columbia in a friend-of-the court brief supporting Washington and Minnesota in defending the temporary restraining order.

That brief, led by the state of New York, argued the travel ban would harm the states’ universities, medical institutions and tax revenue.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, “The brief I joined tells the appeals court that immigrants are the life-blood of our nation who work hard to build our country, especially in California.”

Another state, Hawaii, asked the court for permission to become an official party in the case on the side of Washington and Minnesota, but the court said today that Hawaii could file a friend-of-the-court brief instead.

Ten former diplomatic and security officials, including former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, filed a declaration saying they believe Trump’s executive order “ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer.”

Opponents of the ban contend it denies the rights of due process and equal treatment to visa holders and non-citizen U.S. residents who come from or want to visit and return from the seven countries.

They also claim Trump’s order discriminates against Muslims by targeting predominantly Muslim nations and giving future preference to refugees who are from religious minorities in their countries.

The Justice Department contends the ban is religion-neutral and within the president’s authority to suspend the admission of any group of foreign visitors to protect the national interest.

“The executive order is a lawful exercise of the President’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees,” the federal lawyers wrote in today’s filing.

The intent of the ban “is to permit an orderly review and revision of screening procedures to ensure that adequate standards are in place to protect against terrorist attacks,” the attorneys said.

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