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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Trump promises action 'very rapidly' after travel ban halted

Donald Trump (AP)
Donald Trump (AP)

US President Donald Trump has promised to take action "very rapidly" to protect the country and its citizens, a day after a federal appeals court firmly kept his travel ban on hold.

He did not reveal his planned next step to control travel into the US from countries that he considers potential terrorist threats.

But at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington, he pledged: "We'll be doing things to continue to make our country safe.

"It will happen rapidly. We will not allow people into our country who are looking to do harm to our people."

Mr Trump added that he still expects to prevail in a legal challenge to his travel ban, despite Thursday's 3-0 ruling by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals that kept it from going back into effect.

"Ultimately, I have no doubt that we'll win that particular case," he said.

Mr Trump stressed that voters elected him to keep the country secure, "so we'll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country. You'll be seeing that sometime next week".

He added that "extreme vetting" is still planned for would-be visitors or immigrants from other countries.

Conjuring images of unspecified danger, Mr Trump said he had "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. We will not allow that to happen, I can tell you that. We will not allow that to happen."

The president is standing by his argument that national security hangs in the balance.

He issued an all-caps tweet shortly after Thursday's court ruling: "SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!"

In West Wing comments on Thursday night, he exhibited an air of confidence: "We have a situation where the security of our country is at stake and it's a very, very serious situation, so we look forward ... to seeing them in court.

"We're going to win the case."

The Justice Department said it was "reviewing the decision and considering its options". It could launch an appeal against the restraining order on Mr Trump's travel ban to the U. Supreme Court or it could attempt to remake the case in the district court.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway suggested the next step would be to argue the merits of the executive order.

"The statute provides a president ... with great latitude and authority to protect the citizens and to protect the nation's national security," Ms Conway said.

"This was not argued on the merits. Now that we'll have an opportunity to argue on the merits we look forward to doing that. We look forward to prevailing."

The ruling represented a setback for Mr Trump's administration and the second legal defeat for the new president in the past week.

His decision to sign the executive order late last month has sparked protests at airports around the world as authorities barred scores of travellers from entering the country amid confusion over how to implement the details.

The appellate decision brushed aside arguments by the Justice Department that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.

US District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued the temporary restraining order halting the ban after Washington state and Minnesota sued, leading to the federal government's appeal.

The Trump administration has said the seven nations - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen - have raised terrorism concerns. The states have argued that the executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion and the travel ban harmed individuals, businesses and universities.

The president, in his third week in office, has criticised the judiciary's handling of the case.

Mr Trump has yet to nominate a candidate to be solicitor general, the lawyer who argues before the Supreme Court on behalf of the United States. The president said he will be making that decision over the next week.

AP

Government lawyers fighting to defend Mr Trump's executive order on immigration said that "all options" are being considered after the court ruling.

A Justice Department lawyer, who spoke at a hearing in Virginia, said the administration was weighing whether to challenge the ruling that upheld a temporary block on Mr Trump's ban, saying it was unlikely to survive a legal challenge.

"We may appeal. We may not," lawyer Erez Reuveni said. "All options are being considered."

It could launch an appeal against the restraining order on the travel ban to the US Supreme Court or it could attempt to remake the case in the district court.

Mr Reuveni was appearing at a hearing before Judge Leonie Brinkema at which the state of Virginia was challenging the ban. The judge did not rule. She noted that "the status quo remains" because of the 9th circuit's decision and suggested that a well-reasoned ruling would take time and could not be written "overnight".

Michael Kelly, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, said Friday's hearing in a federal court in a Washington, DC, suburb posed the most significant state challenge yet to Mr Trump's order. In a statement, he said it "will be the most in-depth examination of the merits of the arguments against the ban".

In the specific Virginia challenge, lawyers for the federal government aid that Virginia doesn't have the right to challenge the ban - and that the court doesn't have the power to review the president's executive order.

"Judicial second-guessing of the president's determination that a temporary suspension of entry of certain classes of aliens was necessary at this time to protect national security would constitute an impermissible intrusion" on his constitutional authority, say lawyers Dennis Barghaan and Mr Reuveni.

AP

Later Mr Trump said he was considering signing a new executive order on immigration.

On his way to Florida aboard Air Force One, the president said he is confident that he will win his court battle.

But he added: "We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.

"We need speed for reasons of security. So it could very well be that we do that."

He said a new order would likely change "very little" from the first and said he will likely act on Monday or Tuesday.

AP

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