Donald Trump asks Supreme Court to reinstate travel ban

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to immediately reinstate its ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries and refugees from anywhere in the world, saying the U.S. will be safer if the policy is put in place.

The Justice Department filing to the high court late Thursday argued that lower courts that blocked the Trump policy made several mistakes, including relying on statements President Donald Trump made during the 2016 campaign.

The legal fight pits the president’s significant authority over immigration against what lower courts have said is a policy that purported to be about national security but was intended to target Muslims.

The Justice Department is “confident that President Trump’s executive order is well within his lawful authority to keep the nation safe and protect our communities from terrorism,” spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said. “The president is not required to admit people from countries that sponsor or shelter terrorism, until he determines that they can be properly vetted and do not pose a security risk to the United States.”

Rights groups that have been fighting the policy in the courts said the justices should not allow the travel and refugee bans to take effect.

“Again and again, our nation’s courts have found that President Trump’s Muslim ban is unconstitutional. We will continue to defend our plaintiffs’ right to live free from fear of discriminatory treatment by the federal government,” said Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center.

Immigration officials would have 90 days to decide what changes are necessary before people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen may resume applying for visas. The U.S. refugee program would be halted for 120 days.

It takes a majority of the court, at least five justices, to put the policy into effect.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called the national security concerns an after-the-fact justification for a policy that was “rooted in religious animus and intended to bar Muslims from this country.” The appeals court ruled against reinstating the travel policy by a 10-3 vote last week.

A federal judge in Hawaii also blocked the temporary ban on refugees, and that issue is now being considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.