A federal appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in the legal dispute over President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.
At issue is whether a lower court’s ruling that temporary halted the ban should stay in place.
In his ruling on Friday, federal district court Judge James Robart noted that the states have shown that they’ve been negatively affected as a result of the executive order.
But in its appeal, the federal government argued that the stay puts the country at risk. When asked for examples, August Flentje, the government’s lawyer, pointed out there have been people from Somalia who were connected to an Islamist militant group.
“The reason why we sought immediate relief and a stay is because the district court’s decision overrides the president’s national security judgment about the level of risk,” Flentje said.
Flentje said the president has the authority to make those judgments.
In response, Washington and Minnesota said undoing the restraining order would unleash chaos again. In the days after the executive order was signed, anyone from the seven countries cited in the ban was barred from entering the country, even those who are legal permanent residents.
The ban also suspended the U.S. refugee program until the administration could evaluate the vetting process. Lawyers for the states said the order, in effect, gave preference to certain religions, which is unconstitutional.
Washington Solicitor General Noah Purcell disputed the government’s claim that the restraining order is causing irreparable harm. “In fact, it’s the executive order that’s causing the irreparable harm to our states, to Washington and Minnesota, and to our residents and to many states and people as described in many amicus briefs that have been filed,” Purcell said.
The states included a declaration from former secretaries of states and national security officials. The declaration says while the U.S. faces real terrorism threats, the administration’s ban undermines the country’s national security. It would disrupt thousands of lives, not just refugees, but U.S. troops and their allies.
The hearing was streamed live given the high level of interest. The court is expected to rule within days. Whatever the decision, the case is likely to be appealed again.