U.S. President Donald Trump is assailing the latest federal appellate court decision blocking his executive order restricting travel from six majority-Muslim countries where terrorist attacks have occurred.

“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again – Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country,” Trump posted on his Twitter account Tuesday, adding, “S.C.” in an apparent reference to the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

The appellate court said the president overstepped his authority when he issued the March 6 executive order.  

Monday’s decision in San Francisco was the second against Trump’s attempts to curb travel from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya.  Earlier, the Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Maryland judge’s ruling blocking parts of the order.

‘Not a one-person show’

In the San Francisco ruling, a three-judge panel said that while the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act gives the president broad powers to both control entrants to the United States and protect U.S. security, “immigration, even for the president, is not a one-person show.”

The 4th Circuit focused largely on statements and tweets made by President Trump that indicated his order was a ban on Muslims, something he advocated during his campaign for president.  But the 4th Circuit was only ruling on the portion of the law restricting travel from the six countries for 90 days.  

“In suspending the entry of more than 180 million nationals from six countries, suspending the entry of all refugees, and reducing the cap on the admission of refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, the president did not meet the essential precondition to exercising his delegated authority: The president must make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States,’” the judges wrote.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Trump administration disagrees with the 9th Circuit’s decision and “will continue to seek further review by the Supreme Court.”

“Recent attacks confirm that the threat to our nation is immediate and real.  Certain countries shelter or sponsor terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaida, and we may be unable to obtain any reliable background information on individuals from these war-torn, failed states,” Sessions said.

US security

The 1952 immigration law gives the president authority to restrict the entry of foreign nationals if they are deemed “detrimental to the interests of the United States,” the judges wrote.  

But they said, “The order does not tie these nationals in any way to terrorist organizations within the six designated countries.  It does not identify these nationals as contributors to active conflict or as those responsible for insecure country conditions.  It does not provide any link between an individual’s nationality and their propensity to commit terrorism or their inherent dangerousness.”

The judges said the travel order does not actually curtail travel on the part of individuals, but rather on countries that it says are inherently dangerous.  In this, they did cite one of the president’s tweets: “That’s right, we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries, not some politically correct term that won’t help us protect our people!”


Similarly, the judges found no adequate explanation for the restriction of refugee admissions to 50,000 for the 2017 fiscal year that ends September 30.  Noting that the administration of former president Barack Obama had established a level of 110,000 and justified it on humanitarian grounds, the judges said the order “gives no explanation for why the 50,001st to the 110,000th refugee would be harmful to the national interest, nor does it specify any further threat to national security.”

“We do not anticipate any change to the current status of refugee admissions processing as a result of the 9th Circuit ruling,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA Monday.

The State Department, which oversees in part the early stages of refugee admission to the United States, said last week that it would be processing refugee applications under the original cap for the fiscal year, rather than under the significantly reduced number set by Trump’s executive order.

More than 47,000 refugees have resettled in the United States since October, at a greatly reduced pace since the first travel ban was signed January 27. In recent weeks, that number has been about 800 to 900 refugees a week.  The State Department said it could not speculate about the final number of refugees that would ultimately come to the U.S. by the end of September; at the current rate, that would mean about 60,700 refugees overall for the year.

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