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Texas attorney general backs Trump in travel ban litigation

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President Donald Trump acted well within his authority in issuing his executive order on immigration, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told a federal appeals court on Wednesday.

Paxton, a Republican, attached a brief in asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California for permission to argue in support of Trump’s temporary ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Texas is the first state to back Trump in the closely watched litigation. A group of 15 states and the District of Columbia have filed papers with the appeals court in support of Washington state’s challenge to Trump’s Jan. 27 order, saying it harms their educational institutions and economies.

Paxton said the full court should reconsider whether a lower court judge was justified in halting the ban.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle suspended Trump’s order across the country on Feb. 3. Washington state argued that it violated constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

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That ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit in San Francisco last week, raising questions about Trump’s next step. The appeals court will soon vote on whether to reconsider the case with an 11-judge panel.

Trump’s directive, which he said 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.

The rulings put the order on hold until the courts can rule on the underlying merits. Ultimately, they will have to address questions about the extent of the president’s power on matters of immigration and national security.

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Traditionally, judges have been extremely cautious about stepping on the executive branch’s authority in such matters, legal experts said.

In the brief, Paxton said the order had a clear national security goal, to ensure proper vetting of foreigners seeking entry into the United States. It “reflects national-security interests implicated by the ongoing War on Terror against radical Islamic terrorists.”

Paxton rejected any claim that the order discriminates against Muslims while favoring Christian minorities. If that argument is accepted, he said, it would jeopardize the government’s ability to help persecuted religious minorities abroad by granting them refugee status.

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Texas led the legal fight against President Barack Obama’s plan to protect up to four million immigrants from deportation, joined by 25 other Republican-led states. The challengers won a February 2015 nationwide injunction blocking the program before it was due to go into effect. 

In June 2016, the Supreme Court split 4-4 in the case, leaving in place an appeals court ruling in favor of the states..

A major question in that litigation was whether Texas had legal standing to sue, an issue that the Supreme Court did not resolve. In Wednesday’s brief, Texas did not address whether Washington and other states had standing to sue over Trump’s ban.

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(Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Lawrence Hurley in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Grant McCool)


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Pence abruptly canceled trip because person he was meeting was about to be busted by the feds

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The White House abruptly canceled a planned trip to New Hampshire to prevent Vice President Mike Pence from being seen with somebody about to be busted for interstate drug trafficking of fentanyl, Politico reported Monday.

"Among the problems was a federal law enforcement probe involving individuals Pence would likely encounter, according to a law enforcement official briefed on the incident. If Pence stepped off the vice presidential aircraft, one of the people he would have seen on the ground was under investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration for moving more than $100,000 of fentanyl from Massachusetts to New Hampshire," Politico reported.

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‘Do you love Puerto Rico?’: Fox News’ Shep Smith rips governor to shreds

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Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló was outed for cold and heartless comments he exchanged about his own island in wake of the horrific hurricanes that destroyed the island in 2017. He's also being forced to ask questions about the corruption involving the funding for hurricane relief. Nearly 1 million people have taken to the streets demanding accountability and action.

In his first interview, Rosselló may have assumed he'd meet a friendly audience on Fox News, but Shep Smith let him have it.

"The corruption is rampant in Puerto Rico," Smith said. "Economically Puerto Rico is in a fiscal crisis, $70 billion in debt and a 13-year recession. In the leaked 900 pages of profanity-laced messages, dubbed RickyGate, after you, sir, you made light of the casualties of the Hurricane Maria, you tossed homophobic and misogynistic remarks, You were calling the former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverit a whore. Of the oversight board that rules Puerto Rico's finances, you said, 'Go F-yourself. And when your representative to that board said he is salivating to shoot the woman who is the mayor of San Juan, you said, 'You’d be doing me a grand favor.' So, attacks on woman, gays, dead relatives on your own island and after that who is left to support you? Is it even safe for you to govern?"

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Puerto Ricans launch biggest protest yet against governor

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Angry protesters blocked the main road in Puerto Rico's capital on Monday as they launched what was expected to be the largest yet of a wave of demonstrations seeking the resignation of the US territory's embattled governor.

Marching under sunny skies in San Juan, the demonstrators sang, chanted, danced and carried the territory's red, white and blue flag with a lone star.

Altogether, hundreds of thousands were expected to turn out.

Puerto Ricans are up in arms over alleged corruption involving money meant to be for victims of Hurricane Maria in 2017, which left nearly 3,000 dead.

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