Judges across U.S. to weigh challenges to Trump travel ban

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By Scott Malone and Dan Levine | BOSTON/SEATTLE

BOSTON/SEATTLE Justice Department lawyers across
the United States will on Friday defend President Donald Trump’s
order temporarily banning citizens of seven majority-Muslim
nations from entering the country, a directive some attorneys
general say is unconstitutional.

Trump last week signed the executive order, which affects
people holding passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan,
Syria and Yemen, and also halts temporarily the entry of
refugees into the country.

The White House contends the moves are necessary for
national security. Democratic attorneys general in several
states have called them unconstitutional.

Federal judges in Boston, Seattle and Virginia will weigh
lawsuits filed by different states and advocacy groups
challenging Trump’s order. In Seattle, the states of Washington
and Minnesota are together asking a judge to suspend the entire
policy nationwide, which would represent the broadest ruling to
date against Trump’s directive.

Should the judge rule that Washington and Minnesota have
legal standing to sue, it could help Democratic attorneys
general take on Trump in court on issues beyond immigration.

In a filing late on Thursday, Justice Department lawyers
argued that Trump was well within his authority to issue the
immigration restrictions.

Massachusetts, anti-poverty group Oxfam and seven Iranian
nationals will ask a Boston judge to extend an order issued on
Sunday barring the detention or removal of approved refugees,
visa holders and permanent U.S. residents who entered from the
seven countries.

“If an executive order looks like a Muslim ban, acts like a
Muslim ban, and has been talked about as a Muslim ban, then it’s
probably a Muslim ban,” the plaintiffs said in a court filing.

During his campaign, Trump discussed the idea of banning
Muslims from entering the country to protect against terrorist
threats, and on Thursday he defended the restrictions as
necessary to protect religious liberty.

“There are those who would seek to enter our country for the
purpose of spreading violence, or oppressing other people based
upon their faith or their lifestyle – not right,” he told a
Washington prayer breakfast.

In addition to blocking people from the seven countries from
entering the United States, Trump’s executive order also barred
resettlement of refugees for 120 days and indefinitely banned
Syrian refugees. In an interview with a Christian broadcaster,
Trump said an exception would be made for Christian refugees
from Syria.

A Virginia judge on Friday will consider whether to allow
that state’s attorney general to intervene in another court
challenge there.

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