Appeals court upholds HIAS suit against Trump travel ban

(JTA) – HIAS hailed a U.S. federal appellate court’s decision upholding its appeal against U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel bans.

“The groundswell of public protest against the bans has been inspiring and unrelenting,” the lead Jewish group advocating for immigrants rights said in a statement Thursday after the decision by the Richmond, VA.–Fourth Circuit Court. “The people have spoken, as has the judicial branch.”

HIAS was one of three organizations and six individuals who spearheaded the litigation against Trump’s executive orders temporarily banning refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The orders, one in January and an amended one in March, triggered large protests, some organized by HIAS and other immigration advocacy groups.

The Trump administration said following Thursday’s decision that it would take the matter to the Supreme Court. Separate federal court decisions staying Trump’s ban are also under consideration by the California-based Ninth Circuit.

An array of Jewish groups filed amicus briefs against the travel ban, including Bend the Arc, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee and some Reform Jewish groups.

The 10-3 majority in its decision cited Trump’s campaign promises extensively to counter arguments by the government that the bans were not discriminatory but based on national security considerations.

“Plaintiffs point to ample evidence that national security is not the true reason for” Trump’s executive order, “including, among other things, then-candidate Trump’s numerous campaign statements expressing animus towards the Islamic faith; his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States; his subsequent explanation that he would effectuate this ban by targeting ‘territories’ instead of Muslims directly.”

The decision also cited former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s claim that Trump “had asked him to find a way to ban Muslims in a legal way.”

In making the case that the individuals had standing to bring the case, the majority cited a precedent involving Jewish litigants. In that case, a court held that a Jewish father and daughter who discovered that a public school awarded credit for Christian religious instruction “were made to feel like ‘outsiders in their own community.’”

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