Minnesota, Washington say allowing travel ban would 'unleash chaos again'

Immigration policy protesters at a rally against Trump's executive order.
Protesters rally against President Trump's executive order on immigration Jan. 29 at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News file

Updated: 2:25 p.m. | Posted: 5:45 a.m.

Two Democrat-appointed judges and one Republican appointee will weigh the appeal involving President Donald Trump's recent immigration order.

David Madden, a spokesman for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, says the court's randomly assigned motions panel for this month will rule on the federal government's appeal of a Seattle judge's order temporarily blocking the travel ban.

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The judges on the panel are Senior Judge William C. Canby Jr., appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1980; Senior Judge Richard Clifton, appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002; and Michelle T. Friedland, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2014.

Lawyers for Washington state and Minnesota are telling a federal appeals court that restoring President Trump's ban on refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries would "unleash chaos again."

The filing with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco came early Monday after the White House said it expected federal courts to reinstate the ban. Justice Department lawyers were expected to respond later in the day.

Washington and Minnesota say their underlying lawsuit is strong and a nationwide temporary restraining order is appropriate. If the appellate court reinstates the ban, the states say the "ruling would reinstitute those harms, separating families, stranding our university students and faculty and barring travel."

The rapid-fire legal maneuvers by the two states were accompanied by a declaration filed by John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, former secretaries of state, along with former national security officials under President Barack Obama. They said Trump's ban would disrupt lives and cripple U.S. counterterrorism partnerships around the world without making the nation safer.

"It will aid ISIL's propaganda effort and serve its recruitment message by feeding into the narrative that the United States is at war with Islam," according to the six-page declaration filed in court.

"Blanket bans of certain countries or classes of people are beneath the dignity of the nation and Constitution that we each took oaths to protect," the declaration says.

Mahamed Iye hugs his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille
Mahamed Iye hugs his wife Saido Ahmed Abdille at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Ahmed's visa was honored after a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order on President Trump's travel ban, allowing her to travel to the United States along with her two children.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

The technology industry also argued against the ban, contending it would harm their companies by making it more difficult to recruit employees. Tech giants like Apple and Google, along with Uber, filed their arguments with the court late Sunday.

The government began unwinding the executive order over the weekend after James Robart, a federal judge in Seattle, put it on hold. Family members affected by the policy were reuniting with relatives at American airports on Monday.

Two Yemeni brothers whose family has sued over the travel ban arrived at Dulles International Airport in Virginia, greeted by their father, and in Colorado, a college student who traveled to Libya to visit her sick mother and attend her father's funeral was back in Fort Collins on Monday.

She was welcomed with flowers and balloons by her husband and children.

The next opportunity for Trump's team to argue in favor of the ban will come in the form of a response to the Washington state and Minnesota filings. The 9th Circuit ordered the Justice Department to file its briefs by 6 p.m. EST Monday. It had already turned down a Justice request to set aside immediately a Seattle judge's ruling that put a temporary hold on the ban nationwide.

That ruling last Friday prompted an ongoing Twitter rant by Trump, who dismissed U.S. District Court Judge James Robart as a "so-called judge" and his decision "ridiculous."

Trump renewed his Twitter attacks against Robart on Sunday. "Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens blame him and court system.

People pouring in. Bad!" He followed with another tweet saying he had instructed the Homeland Security Department to check people coming into the country but that "the courts are making the job very difficult!"

The government had told the appeals court that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States, an assertion that appeared to invoke the wider battle to come over illegal immigration.

Congress "vests complete discretion" in the president to impose conditions on entry of foreigners to the United States, and that power is "largely immune from judicial control," according to the court filing.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, predicted the appeals court would not have the last word. "I have no doubt that it will go to the Supreme Court, and probably some judgments will be made whether this president has exceed his authority or not," she said.

In his ruling, Robart said it was not the court's job to "create policy or judge the wisdom of any particular policy promoted by the other two branches," but to make sure that an action taken by the government "comports with our country's laws."

The Twitter attacks on Robart — appointed by President George W. Bush — prompted scolding from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.

"We don't have so-called judges," said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. "We don't have so-called senators. We don't have so-called presidents. We have people from three different branches of government who take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution."

Trump's order applied to Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — Muslim-majority countries that the administration said raise terrorism concerns. The State Department said last week that as many as 60,000 foreigners from those seven countries had had their visas canceled.

After Robart's decision, the department reversed course and said they could travel to the U.S. if they had a valid visa.

The department also advised refugee aid agencies that refugees set to travel before Trump signed his order would now be allowed in.

Feinstein spoke on Fox and Sasse was interviewed by ABC.