White House official attacks court after setbacks on immigration

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A White House official launched a blistering attack on the federal appeals court that blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration on Sunday, calling its ruling a “judicial usurpation of power.”

People participate in a protest against U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policy and the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids in New York City, U.S. February 11, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

The Trump administration has faced multiple legal setbacks to its travel ban issued on Jan. 27, and the Republican president has said he may issue a new executive order rather than go through lengthy court challenges.

“The president’s powers here are beyond question,” White House adviser Stephen Miller said on the “Fox News Sunday” program.

Miller referred to immigration law that the executive order is based on that gives the U.S. president broad powers to restrict who enters the country on national security grounds.

However, the same law forbids discrimination on race, sex, nationality or place of birth or residence. The case also could involve First Amendment protections involving religion.

The executive order Trump issued banned entry into the United States to refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, triggering nationwide protests and legal challenges.

A week later, a federal judge in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order that put the president’s travel ban on hold, eliciting a barrage of angry Twitter messages from Trump. The judge’s suspension was upheld by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday.

Miller, appearing on several television news shows, criticized the court and its ruling.

“The 9th Circuit has a long history of being overturned and the 9th Circuit has a long history of overreaching,” he said on the Fox news show. “This is a judicial usurpation of power.”

The powers to restrict entry into the United States “represent the very apex of presidential authority,” he added.

“We have multiple options and we are considering all of them,” Miller said while appearing on ABC’s “This Week.”

Those include formulating a new executive action, appealing the 9th Circuit panel’s decision to the full appeals court and  appealing the emergency stay to the Supreme Court, he said.

If the Seattle lawsuit goes to trial, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson said on Sunday he will depose Trump administration officials to uncover “what truly motivated” the president’s executive order.

Documents and emails authored by administration officials may contain evidence that the order was an unconstitutional attempt to ban Muslims from entering the United States, and Ferguson said on ABC’s “This Week” that he will use “every tool” at his disposal to bring those to light.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Julia Harte; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Andrea Ricci and Alan Crosby)

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