Trump Immigration Ban: US Government Urges Appeals Court to Reinstate Order

The US government on Monday defended President Donald Trump’s travel ban as a “lawful exercise” of his authority, and urged an appeals court to reinstate the suspended measure in the interests of national security.
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Three days after a federal judge put the controversial measure on hold, Justice Department lawyers filed a court brief challenging the nationwide injunction as “vastly overbroad.”

An hour-long telephone hearing has been set for Tuesday at 3:00pm (11:00pm GMT) in a high-stakes case that looks increasingly likely to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Two new polls show a majority of Americans now oppose the travel ban on refugees and travellers from seven mostly-Muslim nations, which sparked airport chaos and condemnation around the world – but Trump has shown no sign of bending, pushing back late Monday in a new Twitter salvo.

“The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!” he wrote.

Earlier in the day, during a visit to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, Trump accused the media of downplaying the terror threat which his administration cites to justify its ban, saying they purposefully ignored jihadist atrocities.

Asked to explain Trump’s comments, White House spokesman Sean Spicer promised to “provide a list” of attacks that had been “underreported.”

Trump’s decree summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days – a move critics charge will damage US interests. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

The president says the ban is needed to tighten US security against foreign terror threats, citing the September 11, 2001 attacks despite the hijackers having no links to the named countries.

In its filing to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the government argued that the federal court which temporarily rolled back Trump’s directive had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order,” asking that the ban be reinstated.

The Justice Department argued that “the executive order is a lawful exercise of the president’s authority over the entry of aliens into the United States and the admission of refugees.”

“Even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” it said.

The government again denied that the order specifically targets Muslims, defending it as a means to review and revise screening procedures in order to “protect against terrorist attacks.”

And it said non-US citizens seeking to enter the United States for the first time have no constitutional rights to be upheld.

Friday’s decision by a federal judge in Seattle has allowed the many travelers who were suddenly barred from US soil to start trickling back in.

The State Department has said visa holders from the seven countries are allowed to travel to the US as long as their documents have not been “physically canceled.”

On Sunday, the appellate court refused to overrule the federal judge.

Attorneys general for the states of Washington and Minnesota, which won the temporary stay of the ban, have asked the appeals court to refuse to reinstate it. They were backed Monday in a court brief filed by attorneys general from 16 other US states.

Several legal and rights groups have filed in support of the states, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the American Civil Liberties Union.

And in an additional blow, a slew of Silicon Valley giants led by Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter have filed a brief in support of the lawsuit, arguing that the ban threatens their ability to attract crucial foreign talent and investment to the United States.

Tesla and SpaceX were among another 30 companies that added their names to the filing late Monday, pushing the total to more than 120.

A group of prominent Democrats including former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright added their voices to the criticism, arguing that Trump’s ban could endanger US troops in the field, disrupt counterterrorism cooperation and feed Islamic State group propaganda.

Spicer insisted the administration was “absolutely not” planning to back down on its plan for extreme vetting at US borders, saying: “Once we win the case, it will go right back into action.”

But top Republicans have shown renewed signs of discomfort with the president as the controversy escalates – specifically over Trump’s virulent attacks on James Robart, the Seattle federal judge.

Supreme Court Asks Centre for Mechanism to Verify Identities of All Mobile Users

In a move to end fake mobile phone users, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to put in place within a year an effective mechanism to scrutinise the details of identity of over 100 crore existing and future mobile telephone consumers.

Supreme Court Asks Centre for Mechanism to Verify Identities of All Mobile UsersA bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana took note of the statement of Attorney General Mukul Reheated, appearing for the Centre, that a mechanism will be put in place to scrutinise identity of mobile users and new subscribers will be required to fill up Aadhaar-based eKYC forms to ensure correct identity.

“It is submitted that an effective system will be put in place and the process of scrutiny will be completed in one year… We are satisfied that the prayers made in the writ petition have been substantially dealt with,” the bench said and hoped that the process would be completed in the near future and latest before completion of one year.

During the hearing, the bench suggested that existing prepaid mobile users, who are 90 percent of the total mobile users, may be asked to give identity details at the time of recharge as done while giving fresh SIM cards to users.

Rohatgi said that it would be difficult as even small kiosks across the country recharge prepaid mobile phones.

Earlier, the court had asked the Centre and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to apprise it about the steps which can be taken to scrutinise the existing and future mobile users in the country.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Lok Niti Foundation which has sought a direction to the Centre to put in place a proper mechanism to check the authenticity of information provided by mobile users.

The verification has become more important in view of the fact that mobile phones are now being used for banking purposes also, it had said.

The plea said that proper verification of mobile phone subscribers was necessary to avoid fake identities which caused grave risk to national security too.

The court had asked DoT and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to also respond to the letter written to them by the petitioner NGO giving suggestions on the mobile phone verification issue.

The petitioner had written the letter to DoT and TRAI on August 7, 2014, saying there was a grave risk to national security because of lack of verification of mobile phone subscribers and had given suggestions for making systemic improvements to ensure the same.

In its petition before the apex court, the NGO has sought directions to DoT and TRAI to ensure 100 percent verification of mobile phone subscribers with regard to their identity, addresses and that no fake or unverified identity is accepted for subscription of mobile phones.

It also sought that Aadhaar Card or other biometric identification may be made compulsory for verification of the mobile phone users.

It claimed that around 5.25 crore mobile phone subscribers (about 5 percent of the total) are unverified, despite the directions given by the apex court and instructions issued by DoT itself from time to time to ensure mobile phone subscriber verification.

“Unverified SIM cards pose a serious threat to the country’s security as these are routinely used in criminal and terrorist activities,” the petition said.

The plea has sought strict implementation of subscriber verification guidelines and that physical verification be made compulsory in future and physical re-verification of existing subscriber base be conducted in a transparent manner.