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Trump administration appeals block of travel ban

US government begins its legal battle to reinstate immigration order courts ruled discriminated against Muslims.


The Trump administration has appealed a Maryland court's block of its revised travel ban, aiming to reinstate the temporary halt to immigrants and travellers from six majority-Muslim countries.

The justice department filed a notice of appeal with the district court in Greenbelt, Maryland, on Friday, two days after that court and one in Hawaii ruled that the travel ban discriminated against Muslims.

The case now goes to a federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia.

US District Judge Theodore Chuang in Maryland on Thursday issued an emergency halt to the portion of President Donald Trump's March 6 executive order temporarily banning the entry of travellers from Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

He left in place the section of the order that barred the entry of refugees to the United States for four months.

Another federal judge in Hawaii struck down both sections of the ban in a broader court ruling that prevented Trump's order from moving forward.

EXPLAINED: How could Hawaii block Trump's travel ban?

In Washington State, where the ban is also being challenged, US District Court Judge James Robart put a stay on proceedings for as long as the Hawaii court's nationwide temporary restraining order remains in place, to "conserve resources" and to avoid duplicative rulings.

Detractors argue the ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the US constitution's guarantee of religious freedom. Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from "terrorist attacks".

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said at a press briefing the government would "vigorously defend this executive order" and appeal the "flawed rulings".

He said the plan was to appeal at the 4th Circuit in Richmond first and then seek clarification of Hawaii's ruling before appealing to the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

The 9th Circuit court last month upheld a decision by Judge Robart that halted an original, more sweeping travel ban signed by the President on January 27.

The new executive order was revised with the intention of overcoming the legal concerns. It removed any references to religion, and affected fewer individuals.

Trump has vowed to take the fight all the way to US Supreme Court.

The 4th Circuit is known as a more conservative court compared to the 9th Circuit, said Buzz Frahn, an attorney who has been tracking the litigation nationwide.

"The government is probably thinking that the 4th Circuit ... would lend a friendlier ear to its arguments," he told the Reuters news agency.

Judges have said they are willing to look behind the text of the order, which does not mention Islam, to probe the motivation for enacting the ban, said Frahn. Trump during the campaign promised to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

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