Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals questions Trump’s lawyers on revised travel ban

A judge on a federal appeals court hearing arguments over the legality of President Trump's travel ban questioned White House lawyers Monday on whether the controversial measure was similar to the infamous executive order that mandated the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. During arguments Monday in Seattle, Judge Richard Paez, a member of the three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals weighing a challenge from the state of Hawaii, asked Trump's Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall whether the logic the White House was using to defend the ban could have been used to defend the 1944 Korematsu v. United States case. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the internment order of Japanese-Americans, regardless of their citizenship, was constitutional. The comparison of the two bans would appear to bode poorly for the Trump administration, given that the Korematsu case, despite being upheld, is widely reviled in both legal and social justice circles. "Would the Korematsu executive order pass muster under your test today?" Paez asked. "No, Judge Paez," Wall responded. "Why not? Facially legitimate. That's all you say. You emphasize facially legitimate," Paez replied. "I want to be very clear about this. This case is not Korematsu, I wouldn't be standing here and the United States would not be defending it," Wall said. "You're not anywhere approaching Korematsu," he added. "How do you apply the facially legitimate standard to an executive order like this? There was no reference to the Japanese in that executive order and look what happened," Paez said. In fact, former President Franklin Roosevelt's 1942 Executive Order 9066 did not order the specific detention of Japanese-Americans. Rather, it authorized his cabinet to "prescribe military areas" that military commanders could then use to hold "any person" with "whatever restrictions the Secretary Continue Reading

Grandparents, fiancees aren’t considered ‘close family’ exempt under Trump’s revised travel ban

Grandma can’t come over on a plane, dear. Grandparents, grandchildren, fiancees, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and siblings-in-law aren’t deemed “close family” fit for exemption under President Trump’s limited travel ban, per a State Department directive obtained by the New York Times. Those who do make the cut, according to the guidelines issued late Wednesday to U.S. consulates and embassies: parents and parents-in-law; spouses; children; adult children; sons- and daughters-in-law; and step, whole and half-siblings. It remained unclear how the State Department defined “close family.” The visa applicants’ and refugees’ relationships “must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, rather than for the purpose of evading the E.O.,” the diplomatic cable said. The dispatch, coming two days after the Supreme Court ruled part of the travel ban on six majority-Muslim nations could go into effect, lent new clarity to the justices’ sparing those with “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The rules kick into effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, 72 hours after the nation’s highest court issued its clearance. The court had ruled that the administration could bar foreign nationals from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack the so-called “bona fide relationship,” but upheld some lower courts’ injunctions against the President’s travel ban. The Supreme Court will only issue a final ruling after hearing full arguments on the executive order sometime this fall. Still, the President branded the decision “a clear victory for national security.” The partial Trump win came after the President’s original Jan. 27 executive order Continue Reading

President Trump’s revised travel ban will still target same seven Muslim countries as previous order

WASHINGTON — A draft of President Donald Trump's revised immigration ban targets the same seven countries listed in his original executive order and exempts travelers who already have a visa to travel to the U.S., even if they haven't used it yet. A senior administration official said the order, which Trump revised after federal courts held up his original immigration and refugee ban, will target only those same seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya. The official said that green-card holders and dual citizens of the U.S. and any of those countries are exempt. The new draft also no longer directs authorities to single out — and reject — Syrian refugees when processing new visa applications. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order before it's made public. The official noted that the draft is subject to change ahead of its signing, which Trump said could come sometime this week. Asked about the revised order, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the document circulating was a draft and that a final version should be released soon. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Wall Street Journal also reported that the current draft of the revised order focused on the seven countries but excluded those with green cards. Trump's original executive order triggered chaos at airports around the world, as travelers were detained when the order rapidly went into effect, U.S. permanent residents known as green-card holders among them. Attorneys to provide legal assistance those held and protesters descended on the airports as news of the order's implementation spread. In its original form, the order temporarily suspended all travel to the U.S. for citizens of those seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days. The original order also called for Homeland Security and State Continue Reading

Trump suffers second defeat on revised travel ban, as another federal judge slams its discriminatory intent

President Trump’s second travel ban suffered yet another legal setback Thursday after a federal judge in Maryland blocked parts of it — and cited the commander-in-chief’s own inflammatory words about Muslims as part of the reason behind the ruling. The decision early Thursday marked the latest blow to Trump’s ban, after another federal judge in Hawaii rejected the measure Wednesday night, hours before it had been scheduled to take effect. Both judges cited Trump’s own words during the campaign as evidence of discriminatory intent in issuing the new plan. In his ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang called Trump’s own statements about his intention to impose a Muslim ban “highly relevant” and granted a preliminary injunction against the ban nationwide. The purpose of the second order “remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban,” he wrote. Referring to changes Trump’s second executive order had included, such as the removal of a preference for religious minorities in the refugee process, Chuang added that, “despite these changes, the history of public statements continues to provide a convincing case that the purpose of the Second Executive Order remains the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban.” Chuang also declined to stay the ruling should an emergency appeal be filed. The case was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups representing immigrants, refugees and their families, who had argued that the underlying rationale of the ban was to discriminate against Muslims, making it unconstitutional. Just hours earlier, U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, of Hawaii, criticized what he called the “illogic” of the government’s arguments and cited “significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus” behind the travel ban. Watson added in his Continue Reading

President Trump’s revised travel ban dealt first setback by federal Wisconsin judge

A federal judge in Wisconsin dealt the first legal blow to President Donald Trump's revised travel ban on Friday, barring enforcement of the policy to deny U.S. entry to the wife and child of a Syrian refugee already granted asylum in the United States. The temporary restraining order, granted by U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison, applies only to the family of the Syrian refugee, who brought the case anonymously to protect the identities of his wife and daughter, still living in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo. But it represents the first of several challenges brought against Trump's newly amended executive order, issued on March 6 and due to go into effect on March 16, to draw a court ruling in opposition to its enforcement. Conley, chief judge of the federal court in Wisconsin's western district and an appointee of former President Barack Obama, concluded the plaintiff "has presented some likelihood of success on the merits" of his case and that his family faces "significant risk of irreparable harm" if forced to remain in Syria. The plaintiff, a Sunni Muslim, fled Syria to the United States in 2014 to "escape near-certain death" at the hands of sectarian military forces fighting the Syrian government in Aleppo, according to his lawsuit. He subsequently obtained asylum for his wife and their only surviving child, a daughter, and their application had cleared the security vetting process and was headed for final processing when it was halted by Trump's original travel ban on Jan. 27. That executive order sought to ban admission to the United States of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq — for 120 days and to suspend entry of all refugees indefinitely. The original travel ban, which caused widespread chaos and protests at airports when first implemented, was rescinded after the state of Washington won a nationwide federal court order Continue Reading

White House delays revised travel ban to continue praise for Trump’s speech to Congress

Amid an outpouring of praise for President Trump's first address before a joint session of Congress, the White House apparently delayed the release of a new executive order for a revised travel ban, so the speech could continue to receive positive attention. "We want the EO to have its own 'moment,'" a senior Trump administration official told CNN, referring to the coming executive order, which had originally been scheduled to be revealed Wednesday. The official did not dispute the idea that the positive reaction to Trump's speech was part of the motivation behind the delay, CNN reported. The White House reportedly made the call to postpone the announcement late Tuesday night, following Trump's speech. The expected order is seen as a revision of the controversial measure Trump signed last month — barring entry into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-majority nations and limiting the nation's refugee program — which was suspended indefinitely by a federal appeals court. Following the court's ruling, the White House ultimately decided to rescind the order and issue a new one — instead of engaging in a protracted legal battle. The new order will remove Iraq from the list of countries whose citizens face a temporary U.S. travel ban, officials have said, but citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya will still be affected. The revised order will also continue to temporarily halt all refugee admissions, but will not specifically single out Syrian refugees for an indefinite ban, as the prior order had, officials said. In addition, the new order is not expected to affect legal permanent residents or people who already have U.S. visas, officials said, who added that details could still change. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pushed back on the characterization that the immigration order had been pushed back to get Trump's joint address to Congress more coverage, but declined to Continue Reading

Trump issues revised travel ban for six majority-Muslim countries

President Trump took a second swing at his temporary travel ban Monday, this time targeting travelers from six majority-Muslim countries and crafting his executive order in ways intended to survive challenges in U.S. courts. The new ban, which goes into effect March 16, no longer restricts travel from Iraq, one of seven listed in the original order. The 90-day ban now is limited to Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen.As before, the order shuts down the U.S. refugee program for 120 days to give the federal government time to develop "extreme vetting" procedures to prevent terrorists from entering the country. However, Syrians are no longer subject to an indefinite ban, as they were under the first order.The White House spent weeks drafting the revised ban, coordinating with the departments of State, Justice and Homeland Security to avoid the chaos that followed the Jan. 27 order. That one took immediate, snarling travel for thousands of people around the world and at U.S. airports. This time, federal agencies will have 10 days to prepare before the order goes into effect.Trump signed his first order during a highly-publicized signing ceremony at the Pentagon. This time, he signed the order in private and sent out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to issue brief statements."It is the president’s solemn duty to protect the American people, and with this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe," Tillerson said. "As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually reevaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country."The Department of Justice also filed a letter with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, explaining that Trump's new order "revokes" the first one. That means the 9th Circuit may now drop the case against the first ban, Continue Reading

Appeals court rules against President Trump’s revised travel ban

A federal appeals court in Richmond delivered yet another blow Thursday against President Trump's effort to institute a travel ban targeting six majority-Muslim countries, making a final Supreme Court showdown more likely.The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled 10-3 to uphold a lower court's decision that barred the Trump administration from implementing its second attempt at the travel ban. The decision continued a trend among federal courts from coast to coast.Chief Judge Roger Gregory said revisions removing any mention of religion from the second executive order did not hide the real motive: "President Trump’s desire to exclude Muslims from the United States."“From the highest elected office in the nation has come an executive order steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group,” he said in the 79-page opinion.All 10 judges in the majority were named to the court by Democratic presidents, though Gregory was re-nominated by George W. Bush. The three dissenters were named by Republicans.Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed that the case would be appealed to the Supreme Court because it "blocks the president's efforts to strengthen this country's national security.""As the dissenting justices explained, the executive order is a constitutional exercise of the president's duty to protect our communities from terrorism," he said.But the court debunked the administration's claim that the ban was aimed at protecting national security as a "secondary justification for an executive order rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country."The scathing opinion consistently referenced Trump's own words on the campaign trail and after his election, quoting amply from media reports, which it said made clear his true intention. It ruled that the executive order could never "survive any measure of constitutional review.""Surely the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment yet Continue Reading

What President Trump has said about the travel ban

Here's a look at noteworthy statements by President Trump and his advisers on his immigration travel ban, from December 2015 to the present:Trump speaking during a press conference:Trump speaking on MSNBC:Trump speaking on CNN:Trump speaking on Fox Business Network:Trump speaking on NBC, answering whether he had scaled back his call for a Muslim ban by focusing on countries instead:Trump speaking during the second presidential debate in St. Louis:Trump when asked whether recent violence in Europe had affected his plans to ban Muslims:Trump speaking to the Christian Broadcasting Network, explaining a provision in his first travel ban that gives immigration preference to religious minorities:Trump before signing the first travel ban during a ceremony at the Pentagon:Trump adviser and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani speaking on Fox News, when asked how Trump selected the seven countries targeted in the first ban:Trump senior policy adviser Stephen Miller speaking on Fox News after a federal judge blocked the first travel ban:White House press secretary Sean Spicer discussing the revised travel ban during his daily press briefing:Trump speaking at a rally in Nashville, Tenn., after a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the revised travel ban:Trump tweeting after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit maintained a block against the revised travel ban: Read more: Continue Reading

What’s next for Trump’s revised travel ban?

President Trump vowed to take the legal fight over his temporary travel ban targeting majority-Muslim countries all the way to the Supreme Court. Now, in the wake of a second judicial repudiation, some legal experts say Trump's lawyers may slow down an appeal until his Supreme Court nominee is confirmed and can provide a decisive vote.After a federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide temporary restraining order Wednesday, the next logical step is an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, where a three-judge panel ruled against Trump's first version of the ban last month. Trump's lawyers also might go to the 4th Circuit appeals court in Richmond, Va., to try to overturn a separate order blocking the ban issued by a U.S. judge in Maryland Thursday.The final appeal would be the Supreme Court. The problem with that step is the court is currently deadlocked, 4-4, along ideological lines since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia 13 months ago, and a tie vote would  leave the appeals court ruling in place.A way around a deadlock is to wait for Trump's court nominee, appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, to join the bench. The Senate is scheduled to begin hearings on his nomination next week. Confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate could require several more weeks —  assuming Democrats don't employ rules that would stall the nomination indefinitely. Read more:"The wisest course is to appeal the ruling, get the bad decision we all expect from the 9th Circuit, and then hopefully get to the Supreme Court with Gorsuch already confirmed," said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., that advises the Trump administration.The department has given little indication of how it will defend Trump's Continue Reading