White House Asks Supreme Court to Uphold Travel Ban

The White House is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a ban on travelers from six countries after an appeals court in California last week allowed only parts of the president’s order to go into effect.

The request on Monday is the most recent salvo in an ongoing legal skirmish between plaintiffs in federal court and President Donald Trump’s administration, which has issued three variations of an executive order since January in an attempt to block travelers from some countries from coming to the United States.

The state of Hawaii, which sued to block the restrictions, argued that federal immigration law did not give Trump the authority to impose a ban on six of the eight countries included in the third and most recent ban, issued in September.

U.S. officials say Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen are not in compliance with certain security screening measures. They are also Muslim-majority countries — a sticking point for the previous two versions of the order, first in January then in March — and the subject of related lawsuits.

The Hawaii lawsuit did not challenge restrictions toward people from the two other countries listed in Trump’s most recent ban, North Korea and Venezuela.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 13 partially granted a Trump administration request to block at least temporarily a judge’s ruling that had put the new ban on hold. It ruled the government could bar entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries with no connections to the United States.

Meanwhile, in a document obtained by Politico, and first reported late Monday, Inspector General John Roth at the Department of Homeland Security said the federal agency, which oversees many of the practical aspects of the travel bans, such as security at ports of entry, made several missteps while trying to carry out the orders.

Roth, an internal watchdog at the agency, said in a letter to members of Congress who requested the review of the travel bans, that senior DHS officials have also been slow to release the findings of his report sent to them Oct. 6.

In summarizing the report, he noted that while federal officials “largely complied” with the court orders restricting how the travel ban was implemented, U.S. Customs and Border Protection had violated two of them. CBP lacked clear guidance from senior officials during a hastily executed process, Roth said in the letter.

“During the early period of the implementation of the order, neither CBP nor the Department was sure of the answers to basic questions as to the scope of the order, such as whether the order applied to Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), a significant percentage of the affected travelers and a fundamental question that should have been resolved early in the process,” Roth wrote.

DHS issued a press statement on the report Tuesday, saying it is in the midst of a “sensitivity review” and has not yet decided “whether it will invoke the attorney-client privilege or deliberative process privilege over portions of the report, which would prevent release of significant portions to the Congress and the public.”

Material from Reuters was used in this report.

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