Department of Justice files legal brief in ongoing fight over immigration executive order

Posted at 4:32 PM, Feb 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-06 19:29:12-05

The Department of Justice has filed a brief with a federal appeals court as it attempts to get a ruling temporarily halting President Trump's executive order temporarily barring entry to those from seven Muslim-majority countries lifted.

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The state of Washington filed a lawsuit challenging the executive order. On Friday, a judge issued a ruling that applied nationwide putting a hold on the order, effectively returning U.S. immigration policies to what they were before the order was signed late last month--for the time being.

The Department of Justice, arguing on behalf of the White House and President Trump's administration, is seeking a ruling that would stop Friday's ruling pending appeal. In the brief filed Monday, lawyers argued the executive order suspending entry was within the legal authority granted to the executive branch, arguing the seven Muslim-majority countries (Syria, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) have "a previously identified link to an increased risk of terrorist activity."

"The purpose of the [executive order] is to permit an orderly review and revision of screening procedures to ensure that adequate standards are in place to protect against terrorist attacks," wrote Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler.

Opponents of the order have argued that recent terror attacks on U.S. soil, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, the San Bernardino shooting and the Boston Marathon bombing, were either legal U.S. residents or on visas from countries not included in the temporary ban.

A terrorism expert with the nonpartisan RAND corporation said, since September 11, 147 people have been involved in jihadist terrorist plots within the United States. Of those, 104 were U.S. citizens and another 20 legal permanent residents.  

Both the DOJ and the state of Washington will argue their cases via telephone in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals starting at 3 p.m. Pacific time Tuesday, per the Washington Attorney General's Office.