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Trump Administration Plans New Immigration Order Next Week, Ends Legal Push in Appeals Court

16 Feb

By Brent Kendall

WASHINGTON—The Justice Department on Thursday told an appeals court there was no reason to reconsider a case on President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration and refugees, a move that came as Mr. Trump announced he would issue a new order next week.

The department’s filing came in the San Francisco-based Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a three-judge panel last week ruled the executive order couldn’t be implemented because it went too far in limiting travelers to the U.S.

Following that ruling, an unnamed judge on the Ninth Circuit asked colleagues to vote on whether to reconsider the case before a larger roster of judges, a step Mr. Trump’s administration hasn’t requested.

The Justice Department on Thursday said it believed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling contained important errors, but it nevertheless said reconsideration wasn’t necessary in light of the president’s new plans.

“Rather than continuing this litigation, the president intends in the near future to rescind the order and replace it with a new, substantially revised executive order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns,” the department said in its brief.

The Justice Department’s opposition to further consideration of the original immigration order means that Supreme Court intervention in the immediate future is unlikely.

It is likely that potential litigation over a new Trump administration immigration order would start fresh in the federal trial courts, the first venue for legal challenges.

Mr. Trump said in a press conference Thursday said he would issue the new order next week, and he suggested it could achieve many of the same goals as the initial measure while taking the Ninth Circuit’s objections into account.

“The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision,” he said.

The Justice Department’s legal brief did urge the Ninth Circuit to toss out last week’s three-judge opinion once the president issues a new order.

The original Jan. 27 order suspended entry to the U.S. for visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—for at least 90 days, froze the entire U.S. refugee program for four months and indefinitely banned refugees from Syria. The government said such action was needed to keep terrorists from entering the U.S.
Multiple courts have ruled against the president. The Ninth Circuit found the order violated constitutional guarantees of due process, while a federal judge in Virginia this week said it likely violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.