The DoJ has defended President Donald Trump’s immigration ban and urged an appeals court to reinstate it in the interests of national security.
In a 15-page brief it argued it was a “lawful exercise of the president’s authority” and not a ban on Muslims.
President Trump’s executive order temporarily banned entry for all refugees and visitors from seven mainly Muslim countries.
A hearing has been set for today on whether to allow or reject the ban.
The filing was made to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in response to the halting of Donald Trump’s order on February 3 by a federal judge in Washington state.
The judge had ruled the ban was unconstitutional and harmful to the state’s interests.
As a result, people from the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – with valid visas were able to travel to the US again.
The brief filed on February 6 said the Washington court had “erred in entering an injunction barring enforcement of the order”.
“But even if some relief were appropriate, the court’s sweeping nationwide injunction is vastly overbroad,” the DoJ added.
President Trump’s executive order issued on January 25 fulfilled his campaign promise to tighten restrictions on arrivals to the US.
It caused confusion at US and foreign airports when it came into force, and was widely condemned, although polls suggest that US public opinion is sharply divided on the policy.
The states of Washington and Minnesota have argued that as well as being unconstitutional, the travel ban is harmful to their residents, businesses and universities.
Attorneys general in 16 states have signed a letter condemning the ban, and lawsuits have been launched in 14 states.
Former secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright and former CIA director Leon Panetta have joined others in drafting a letter which describes the travel ban as ineffective, dangerous and counterproductive.
Lawyers for tech giants including Apple and Google have also lodged arguments with the court, saying that the travel ban would harm their companies by making it more difficult to recruit employees.