President Donald Trump said his government will act anew on U.S. security next week, after a federal appeals court decided not to reinstate his ban on travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. “We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country; you’ll be seeing that some time next week,” Trump said at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday. He offered no specifics on the plan, which he announced in response to a question about his immigration order. The announcement came the day after a federal appeals court upheld a decision by a federal judge in Seattle to temporarily block his Jan. 27 executive order barring citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S.
In the immediate aftermath of the 26-page ruling from a three-judge panel, Trump tweeted that the decision was “disgraceful” and vowed to press on with legal efforts to reinstate the travel ban. On Friday, he said his administration would also continue to fight for the ban in courts, and that “ultimately, I have no doubt we will win that particular case.” ‘Whatever’s Necessary’ “We are going to keep our country safe,” he said on Friday. “We are going to do whatever’s necessary to keep our country safe.” The Trump administration argued that states have no right to sue to block the immigration order and that courts have no authority to review an executive branch decision on immigration policy.
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But the panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco rejected those arguments, saying that the “federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.” Moreover, the panel found, the administration had shown “no evidence” that individuals from those seven nations had committed terrorist acts. The Trump administration could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but reversing the ruling would require a five-vote majority among the eight current members. If the high court fails to intervene, the case would return to U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
The White House may consider issuing a new executive order that explicitly omits green-card holders from the travel ban in an effort to head off legal challenges. Green card holders from countries covered by the ban are allowed to re-enter the country, but are subject to “extreme vetting” procedures. Josh Blackman, a law professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, said Trump’s new order will need to make clear that it doesn’t apply to lawful permanent residents, or so-called green card holders, to pass legal muster.
“That kills a huge chunk of the Ninth Circuit’s analysis,” he said, referring to the California appeals court. The new order may also include reasons why residents from the seven nations are being singled out, although it’s unclear whether that will satisfy the judges who have questioned the directive’s constitutionality. “The court requires evidence that people from those countries not only were suspect or arrested for planning, but indeed perpetrated acts of terror,” he said in an e-mail.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump’s promise of a new action doesn’t signal any legal retreat from his original immigration order. Despite the legal setback, Trump said Friday he felt “totally confident” that there would be “tremendous security for the people of the United States.” He offered the assurance despite also claiming he had learned alarming new information about threats facing the nation. “I’ve learned tremendous things that you could only learn, frankly, if you were in a certain position, namely president, and there are tremendous threats to our country,” Trump said. “We will not allow that to happen. I can tell you that right now. We will not allow that to happen.”