Trump seeks pause in legal fight with revised travel ban

Demonstrators protest against President Donald Trump's attempt to impose a freeze on admitting refugees into the United States. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Trump seeks pause in legal fight with revised travel ban

SAN FRANCISCO: The Trump administration said in court documents on Thursday it wants a pause in the legal fight over its ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations, so it can issue a replacement ban as it strives to protect the nation from terrorism.
Details of the new proposal were not provided in the filing or at a wide-ranging news conference by President Donald Trump. But lawyers for the administration said in the filing that a ban that focuses solely on foreigners who have never entered the US — instead of green card holders already in the US or who have traveled abroad and want to return — would pose no legal difficulties.
“In so doing, the president will clear the way for immediately protecting the country rather than pursuing further, potentially time-consuming litigation,” the filing said.
Trump said at the news conference that a new order would come next week.
“I will not back down from defending our country. I got elected on defense of our country,” he said.
Legal experts said a new order focusing only on residents of the seven countries who had never entered the US would still face legal hurdles over possible religious discrimination.
Jessica Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, believes Trump would eliminate some major problems with the new focus.
“But I think that it will definitely still end up in court,” she said.
Stephen Vladeck, who teaches at the University of Texas School of Law, said the states challenging the current ban — Washington and Minnesota — would likely change their lawsuit to focus on any revised order.
“It will surely be a mess — and perhaps a repeat of some of the chaos we saw the first weekend of the original order,” Vladeck wrote in an e-mail.
The administration asked the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals to hold off on making any more decisions related to the lawsuit until the new order is issued, and then toss out last week’s decision by a three-judge 9th Circuit panel that kept the ban on hold.
The 9th Circuit said late Thursday it will hold off on deciding whether to have a larger panel of judges reconsider that ruling.
The appeals court had asked the Trump administration and Washington and Minnesota to file arguments on whether a larger panel should rehear the case.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the federal government was “conceding defeat” by saying it does not want a larger appellate panel to review last week’s ruling. The three judges who issued that decision rejected the Trump administration’s claim of presidential authority and questioned its motives in ordering the ban.
The administration attacked the decision in Thursday’s court filing, saying the panel wrongly suggested some foreigners may be entitled to constitutional protections. The filing also rejected the judges’ determination that courts could consider Trump’s statements about shutting down Muslim immigration.
The lawsuit says the ban unconstitutionally blocks entry to the US on the basis of religion and harms residents, universities and sales tax revenue in the two states. Eighteen other states, including California and New York, have supported the challenge.
In his filing with the 9th Circuit Thursday, Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell said the ruling by the three-judge panel was consistent with previous US Supreme Court decisions, so there was no basis for a review.
Purcell said Trump had campaigned on the promise to ban Muslims from entering the US and one week into office issued the order that “radically changed immigration policy” and “unleashed chaos around the world.”
The three-judge panel said the states had raised “serious” allegations that the ban targets Muslims, and it rejected the federal government’s argument that courts do not have the authority to review the president’s immigration and national security decisions.
The three judges said the Trump administration presented no evidence that any foreigner from the seven countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — was responsible for a terrorist attack in the US
In Thursday’s filing, the administration said the ban was intended to prevent potential attacks from “nationals of seven countries that were previously found to present uniquely high risks of terrorism.”
The ban does not discriminate on the basis of religion because it affects only a fraction of the world’s Muslim population and also applies to non-Muslims in those countries, the administration said.


Colombia’s new president Ivan Duque is an anti-FARC hard-liner

Updated 12 min 4 sec ago
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Colombia’s new president Ivan Duque is an anti-FARC hard-liner

  • Ivan Duque has vowed to make “structural changes” to the 2016 agreement, which led to the group’s disarmament and conversion into a political party
  • Duque has railed against the Colombian left, voicing fears that it would drag the country into the same economic quagmire in which neighboring Venezuela is mired

BOGOTA: Ivan Duque’s election victory in Colombia makes him the youngest president in his country’s modern history, and gives him a strong mandate to overhaul the government’s fragile peace deal with the former rebel group FARC.
He campaigned on a ticket to rewrite the peace deal signed with the FARC by outgoing center-right president Juan Manuel Santos. His vanquished leftist opponent, Gustavo Petro, supports the deal.
A lawyer with a degree in economics, Duque represents many Colombian voters who were outraged by concessions given to the former rebels, including reduced sentences for those who confessed to their crimes.
He has vowed to make “structural changes” to the 2016 agreement, which led to the group’s disarmament and conversion into a political party.
“What we Colombians want is that those who have committed crimes against humanity be punished by proportional penalties... so that there is no impunity,” Duque told AFP during the campaign.
He will succeed Santos on August 7, a few days after his 42nd birthday.
Latin America’s longest-running conflict left more than 260,000 people dead, nearly 83,000 missing and some 7.4 million forced from their homes.

Duque has railed against the Colombian left, voicing fears that it would drag the country into the same economic quagmire in which neighboring Venezuela is mired.
The left in turn accuses him of being a puppet of Alvaro Uribe, the former two-term president who took a hard line against the left when he was last in power eight years ago.
“Nobody knows if he has his own criteria or if he will obey orders,” Fabian Acuna, a political analyst at Cali’s Javeriana University, said of Duque.
Although a newcomer to politics — he has been a senator since 2014 — politics is in his blood.
Born in Bogota on August 1, 1976, his father was a liberal politician.
But it was Santos, the outgoing president, who took Duque under his wing in the 1990s as a financial adviser. Later, he worked for 13 years for the Washington-based Inter-American Development Bank.
Today, Duque finds himself in opposition to Santos over the peace deal.
“He is very dynamic when it comes to public relations, very clever,” said a former co-worker at the IDB.
While working in the United States, Duque met Uribe, who persuaded him to run for the Senate.
“Ivan is very intelligent and I’m sure he has a bright future ahead of him,” wrote Uribe in his 2012 book “No Lost Causes.”
But for Roy Barreras, a senator from Santos’s party, “a president must have experience, autonomy, political capacity — all missing with Ivan, who is, as everyone admits, a good little guy.”
A father of three, Duque used to play bass in a rock band, but his relaxed image contrasts sharply with his conservative ideals — he is a staunch opponent of gay marriage, euthanasia and the decriminalization of drugs.
He has strong support from the far-right as well as an increasingly influential evangelical Christian bloc.