The Justice Department on Monday filed an emergency application at the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block an appeals court decision that curbed President Donald Trump's effort to temporarily bar most refugees from entering the United States.
The Justice Department's high court filing Monday follows an appeals court ruling last week that would allow refugees to enter the United States if a resettlement agency in the US had agreed to accept their case.
The appeals court decision, which affects about 24,000 refugees, could take effect on Tuesday.
At the request of the Justice Department, the Supreme Court stayed a lower court ruling that would have exempted some people for the administration's ban on refugees. That filing, by Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, demonstrated the lengths to which the government is willing to go to impose its desired version of the ban, even before the high court takes up in earnest next month whether the measure is lawful at its core.
The latest, in this unnecessarily long and drawn out saga, is the 9th Circuit's opinion allowing just about every family member of foreign nationals receiving visitor benefits exemption from the president's travel order which took aim at countries known to be state sponsors of terror (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen).
Both provisions were blocked by lower courts but were partially revived by the Supreme Court in June.
The measure was supposed to have been temporary - lasting 90 days for citizens of the six affected countries, and 120 days for refugees.
Trump administration lawyers told justices on Monday that changing the way it enforces the policy on refugees would allow "admission of refugees who have no connection to the United States independent of the refugee-admission process itself".
The arguments hinged on a stipulation in the travel ban that refugees in the pipeline can only be accepted if they have a "bona fide relationship" with a USA individual or entity. Or he might extend the order on the grounds that the government has been unable to conduct reviews of vetting procedures - ostensibly what the halt in travel was meant to allow - without the ban fully in place. A series of court decisions since then have said that order must include people with grandparents and cousins in this country.