Trump Travel Ban Dealt Blow by San Francisco Appeals Court

Phillip Cunningham
December 25, 2017

In concluding that the President had probably failed to obey immigration laws passed by Congress, the Ninth Circuit Court concluded that Trump appeared to have (1) exceeded powers given by Congress to bar entry into the US of foreign nationals, (2) failed to make the specific finding imposed by Congress that the foreign nationals being kept out would harm United States interests, (3) violated a congressionally-imposed bar [on discrimination] based on the nationality of those excluded, and (4) lacked the authority under his own Executive powers to impose the curbs without explicit power given by Congress. The court said the ban should not be enforced against people with a relationship with a person or institution in the United States.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court granted the United States administration's request to lift two injunctions imposed by lower courts that had partially blocked the ban.

In this latest ruling the judges said Mr. Trump's repeated efforts to impose a travel ban are causing "psychological harm and distress" among Muslims, who feel targeted.

'We continue to believe that the order should be allowed to take effect in its entirety, ' Ehrsam said.

The other lawsuit was filed in federal court in Maryland by the International Refugee Assistance Project and other groups and is now pending before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia.

"We conclude that the Proclamation conflicts with the statutory framework of the INA by indefinitely nullifying Congress's considered judgments on matters of immigration", the panel added.

The ruling (PDF) late Friday said that the travel ban should not prevent individuals from Iran, Libya, Chad, Syria, Somalia and Yemen with "bona fide" ties to the United States from traveling here.

Trump's latest order also affects some would-be travelers from two nations with governments sharply at odds with the U.S. North Korea and Venezuela, although those restrictions were not challenged in the suit ruled on Friday.

"National security alone is not a "talismanic incantation" that once invoked, can support any and all exercise of executive power under" immigration law, the decision said. The first version, which applied to people from seven countries, including legal USA residents, was replaced by a narrowed-down version applying to six countries. The Justice Department appealed to the Supreme Court, but the high court dropped the cases in October after Trump issued the third version of the ban and the earlier version expired.

Noah Purcell, the solicitor general for the Washington state Attorney General's Office who argued that state's challenge to Trump's first travel ban, was pleased with the 9th Circuit opinion.

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