Trump retreats from travel ban court battle, will issue new immigration order instead
US President Donald Trump will replace his executive order suspending travel from seven Muslim-majority countries “in the near future,” according to a Justice Department court filing on Thursday, instead of fighting a federal appeals court decision that put the original ban on ice.
Trump said in a news conference the roll out of the travel ban last month was “very smooth” but the administration got “a bad court decision.”
The decision to retreat from a court battle comes after Trump had vowed on Twitter to fight the court decision. “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” he had tweeted on February 9.
Given the upcoming executive order, the Justice Department said a federal appeals court should not reconsider a ruling that suspended Trump’s January 27 order.
“In so doing, the President will clear the way for immediately protecting the country rather than pursuing further, potentially time-consuming litigation,” the Justice Department said in its filing.
Trump said in a news conference at the White House: “As far as the new order, the new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision, but we can tailor the order to that decision and get just about everything and in some ways more. But we are tailoring it now to the decision.”
Trump has said his directive, issued last month, was necessary to protect the United States from attacks by Islamist militants, barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. Refugees were banned for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.
US District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspended the order nationwide after Washington state challenged its legality, eliciting a barrage of angry Twitter messages from Trump against the judge and the court system. A three judge 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals panel last week upheld Robart’s ruling.
An unidentified 9th Circuit judge last week requested that the court’s 25 full-time judges vote on whether that should be reconsidered by an 11-judge panel, known as en banc review.
While the Justice Department on Thursday did not seek en banc review, it did take issue with the 9th Circuit’s ruling, saying “it should not remain circuit precedent,” and asking that it be vacated when the president issues a new order.
Trump’s decision to issue a new executive order plunges court proceedings over his actions into further uncertainty. Separate from the appeals court proceedings, a Seattle federal judge on Wednesday ordered both Washington state and the Justice Department to submit initial plans for discovery in the case by next month.
Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson has said he wants to depose Trump officials about their motives for the travel ban, which could help the courts decide whether it violates constitutional protections for religion. The Justice Department said it opposes discovery at a hearing last week.
Ferguson claimed a victory in the case on Thursday, after the Justice Department made a court filing announcing that there would be a new, rewritten order.
“Today’s court filing by the federal government recognises the obvious - the president’s current executive order violates the Constitution,” Ferguson said, in a statement. “President Trump could have sought review of this flawed order in the Supreme Court but declined to face yet another defeat.”
Whenever Trump issues a new order, Washington state could revise its lawsuit if it believes that directive is unconstitutional as well.
The abrupt implementation of Trump’s original order plunged the immigration system into chaos, sparking a wave of criticism from targeted countries, Western allies and some of America’s leading corporations, especially technology firms, which lean heavily on immigrant talent.
SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 9, 2017
But Trump said the roll-out had been “very smooth.” He said the order was needed to keep the country safe and that was the reason for its quick implementation.
If the administration had decided to spend a month crafting the order, “everything would’ve been perfect,” Trump said.
“The problem is we would’ve wasted a lot of time, and maybe a lot of lives because a lot of bad people would’ve come into our country,” he added.
The Justice Department court filing on Thursday said Trump’s order would be “substantially revised” but did not provide details. Last week an congressional aide who asked not to be identified told Reuters that Trump might rewrite the original order to explicitly exclude green card holders, or permanent residents.