Trump administration appeals block of revised travel ban
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Trump administration appeals block of revised travel ban

Justice Department disputes courts' assertions that new directive discriminates against Muslims

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of Congress in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)
US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of Congress in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, on March 17, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday appealed a Maryland court’s block of its revised travel ban, aiming to reinstate the temporary halt to immigrants and visitor arrivals from six majority Muslim countries.

The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal with the district court in Greenbelt, Maryland, two days after that court and one in Hawaii dealt a new blow to the White House’s travel ban, both ruling that it discriminated against Muslims.

The case now goes to a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia.

Trump has said a travel ban is needed to preserve US national security and keep out extremists.

His first effort, in January, banned travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees but was blocked by a court in Washington state on the grounds that it violated the constitution’s prohibition of religious discrimination.

That block was upheld on appeal, and the administration said it would revise the ban to better adhere to the law.

A demonstrator rallies during a small protest of President Donald Trump's proposed travel ban and suspension of the country's refugee program, March 16, 2017 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)
A demonstrator rallies during a small protest of President Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban and suspension of the country’s refugee program, March 16, 2017 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

But the new ban has run into the same problems.

It aims to close US borders to nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and all refugees for at least 120 days. Iraq was on the original ban but removed in the revision.

The White House said the six countries were targeted because their screening and information capabilities could not meet US security requirements.

While the ban does not mention Muslims, the courts have accepted arguments that Trump’s statements while he was running for president last year that he would open his White House term with a ban on Muslim arrivals effectively defined his approach.

Arguing the case in Hawaii, Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall said of Trump’s comments: “There is a difference between a president and a candidate.”

“This order doesn’t draw any religious distinction at all,” he added.

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