US appeals court to rule on Trump travel ban by end of day

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - A federal appeals court weighing whether to reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order closing US borders to refugees and nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries said it would hand down its ruling on Thursday US time (Feb 9).

“This is to inform you that an order will be filed in this case before the close of business today,” said David Madden, spokesman for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, adding that he had no further information.

A panel of three judges held a contentious hearing in the matter on Tuesday, with the lawyer representing the Trump administration insisting the controversial ban was justified for national security reasons.

The order, which was issued on Jan 27 with no prior warning, sparked travel chaos and was met with condemnation by immigration advocacy groups.

The ban was suspended nationwide on Feb 3 by a federal judge in Seattle, after two US states asked it to be overturned on grounds of religious discrimination and that it had caused “irreparable injury.”

Trump’s decree summarily denied entry to all refugees for 120 days, and travellers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days. Refugees from Syria were blocked indefinitely.

Top administration officials have argued it is needed to keep out Islamic State and Al-Qaeda fighters migrating from Middle East hotspots, insisting time is needed to implement stricter vetting procedures.