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Trump faces major legal test over his travel ban

By Lalit K Jha
February 07, 2017 11:14 IST
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As President Donald Trump is set to face a major legal test over his travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations, the White House on Tuesday ruled out any possibility of withdrawing the order and exuded confidence of winning the case.

IMAGE: Demonstrators march from the White House to the Capitol Building protesting Trump's travel ban. Photograph: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

“Clearly the law is on the President’s side. The Constitution is on the President’s side. He has broad discretion to do what’s in the nation’s best interests to protect our people. And we feel very confident that we will prevail in this matter,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters travelling with the President aboard Air Force One from Tampa in Florida to Andrews Air Force base.

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The temporary travel ban which affects Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen has sparked widespread protests around the world.

The appeals court has asked for both sides to file legal briefs before the court makes its final decision after a federal judge halted the programme on Friday.

The US government defended the ban as a “lawful exercise” of President’s authority. The court is schedule to hear the case later in the day.

Meanwhile, Spicer ruled out any possibility of withdrawing the executive order.

“No, no, no,” he said when asked if the White House is thinking about withdrawing it.

“This executive order was done in the best interest of protecting the American people. I think this is something that has broad support from the American people from one coast to another, and we’re going to continue to do what we have to. And this President is committed to making sure that the country and its people are safe,” he said in response to a question.

“I think part of the reason he issued the order the way he did was to ensure that people didn’t have an advance notice, and he protected the country and ensured that we have an idea of who’s coming in and out of the country,” Spicer argued.

Trump’s number-one priority is to do what he can to keep the American people safe, he added.

IMAGE: Trump condemned the media for downplaying the terror threat his administration has cited to justify the travel ban. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Trump, who paid a visit to US Central Command in Tampa, condemned the media for downplaying the terror threat his administration has cited to justify the travel ban.

“Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11, as they did from Boston to Orlando to San Bernardino, and all across Europe,” Trump said.

To defend President’s actions, the White House released a list of 78 terrorist attacks under-reported by the media.

“The President, again, got a great update today on the fight against the Islamic States that’s going on throughout the region and what our military is facing throughout this globe, trying to combat IS,” Spicer said.

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“But there’s a lot of instances that have occurred where I don’t think that they’ve gotten the coverage it’s deserved, and I think that’s what the President was clearly referring to there,” he added.

The Trump administration on Monday told a federal court that the US President has authority to decided who can enter the country and that the temporary suspension of visas from seven countries is in the national security interest.

In a submission before the Ninth US Circuit Courts of Appeals in San Francisco, the Department of Justice pushed for quashing the stay order on the executive order of the US President that suspends for 90 day entry of people from seven countries.

The Trump Administration has ordered a country wise review of its visa policies.  

IMAGE: Demonstrators support a ruling by a federal judge in Seattle that grants a nationwide temporary restraining order against the presidential order to ban travel. Photograph: David McNew/Getty Images

Relying on his express statutory authority to suspend entry of any class of aliens to protect the national interest, the US president has directed a temporary suspension of entries through the refugee program and from countries that have a previously identified link to an increased risk of terrorist activity, it said.

The federal government said the executive order temporarily suspends entry of aliens from seven countries previously identified by Congress and the Executive Branch as raising heightened terrorism-related concerns.

The suspension terminates in 90 days, once concerns relating to screening practices can be addressed, as necessary “to prevent infiltration [into this Nation] by foreign terrorists or criminals,” it said.

Similarly, the temporary suspension of the US refugee programme will be lifted after 120 days, once the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, determine “what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”

“The potential national-security risks and harms resulting from the compelled application of procedures that the President has determined must be re-examined, for the purpose of ensuring an adequate measure of protection for the Nation, cannot be undone,” it said.

The Department of Justice said the federal government has made clear that it is seeking to protect green card holders and other nationals from the seven identified countries who were previously admitted to the United States and are either temporarily abroad or are here now and wish to travel outside this country -- not aliens who are attempting to enter the country for the first time. 

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Lalit K Jha
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