The Trump administration has asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to reinstate its controversial ban on refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim counties, arguing that a Seattle judge exceeded his authority by issuing a nationwide injunction, the Seattle Times reports. The administration contends that Trump was well within his authority when he issued the executive order last month, citing national security. Department of Justice lawyers deny the president’s order is religion-based. It says three of the countries — Iran, Sudan and Syria — have been determined by Congress or previous administrations to be state sponsors of terrorism, and four others — Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Yemen — provide a safe haven for terrorists or represent a heightened risk of terrorism.
The appeal is being considered by a panel of three judges based in Phoenix, Honolulu and San Francisco. Oral arguments are set for 6 p.m. Eastern time today. Trump’s order indefinitely blocked entry to the U.S. for Syrian refugees and temporarily suspended entry for refugees and travelers from the seven majority-Muslim countries. Those countries are associated with a “heightened risk of terrorism,” the Department of Justice lawyers argued. The executive order unleashed chaos at airports and elsewhere as thousands of immigrants, many of whom had already been screened by immigration officials and issued visas, found themselves banned from entering the U.S. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson argued that reinstating the ban would again “unleash chaos.” He says Trump’s executive order is a thinly disguised effort by the president to fulfill a campaign promise to ban Muslims from coming to the U.S.