President Donald Trump is planning to issue a new executive order related to his earlier action barring entry into the U.S. to citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, according to court documents filed Thursday by U.S. Department of Justice and Trump’s comments at a press briefing.
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Trump’s previous order was halted by a federal court judge in Washington state who issued a nationwide temporary restraining order on February 3. The Trump administration quickly appealed the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco but that court's three-judge panel handed down a unanimous decision that left the restraining order in place.
Trump tweeted a fiery response to that ruling, promising to pursue the matter in court, but in Thursday’s filing, the Justice Department informed the 9th Circuit that it is not seeking a reconsideration on the matter.
“Rather than continuing this litigation, the President intends in the near future to rescind the Order and replace it with a new, substantially revised Executive Order to eliminate what the panel erroneously thought were constitutional concerns,” explains the filing from the Justice Department.
Shortly before the new court filing, Trump defended the legality of the executive order at a White House news conference, stating that his administration is “appealing” the original result, but also confirming that he would be moving ahead with a new action that will be “tailored” to the court’s earlier decision and issued “sometime next week.”
“We are going further -- we're issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country,” said Trump. “So we'll be going along the one path and hopefully winning that.”
In its filing with the 9th Circuit, the Justice Department maintains its stance that the court’s ruling was erroneous, but cites the “unusual circumstances presented” by the “expedited proceedings” and “complexity and constitutional magnitude of the issues.”
“The government respectfully submits that the most appropriate course would be for the Court to hold its consideration of the case until the President issues the new Order and then vacate the panel’s preliminary decision,” the Justice Department writes.
In its original form, the executive order put a 90-day stop on entry to the United States for nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Confusion ensued in the aftermath of the order’s signing as legal permanent residents of the U.S. and some visa holders from the affected countries were denied admission at various airports.
The administration’s filing Thursday reiterates the government’s stance that the executive order was never meant to apply to legal permanent residents, but instead that “its focus is aliens seeking initial entry” who have “no constitutional rights regarding their application[s].”
The Justice Department does concede though that the order was “ambiguous” with respect to legal permanent residents which led to conflicting “reasonable” interpretations.
Additional clarification in Thursday’s filing explains that the order was only meant to apply to aliens attempting to enter the country, not persons already in the U.S. who haven’t left.
Trump maintained Thursday that the roll-out of the order “was perfect,” adding that the only problem they encountered was with “a bad court.”
“We had a court, what I consider to be, with great respect, a very bad decision, very bad for the safety and security of our country,” said Trump.