Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday led a coalition of 13 states in filing a brief with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals defending President Donald Trump’s revised immigration order.
In the brief, Paxton and representatives from 12 other states argue that the Trump administration’s new order is legal and falls under the president’s power over foreign affairs and national security.
Federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland placed nationwide blocks on the order two weeks ago.
The revised order would place a 90-day ban on travelers to the United States from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It exempted green card and visa holders in an effort to resolve the reasons that courts blocked Trump’s initial ban. It would also block the entry of refugees into the country for 120 days and limit refugee admissions to 50,000 in the fiscal year.
“Rather than leaving national security in limbo while litigation dragged on, President Trump issued a revised immigration order that addresses the 9th Circuit’s concerns and is a vital step in securing our borders,” Paxton said in a written statement. “It is imperative we find a way to better screen refugee applicants to maintain national security. The president is fulfilling his solemn duty to protect Texans and all Americans.”
The brief says the order does not discriminate against religion because it classifies those seeking entry into the U.S. by nationality, not religion. The president, the brief argues, is allowed to suspend the entry of “all aliens” or “any class of aliens” if their entry would be detrimental to the country.
Texas is joined in the brief by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia, as well as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.
Paxton did file a brief in support of the first Muslim ban, so this is hardly a surprise. I’ll leave it to you to read Dahlia Lithwick and Rick Hasen to assess the legal merits of the order and the legal action against it. I’ll just note that the state of Texas is heavily dependent in many ways on foreigners – from business and agriculture to cities that depend on international visitors to colleges and universities that enroll overseas students, often at full tuition. My point here is that while Paxton is being a good apparatchik for Trump, he is very much not acting in the best interests of the state whose interests he supposedly represents. The lurid claims about “national security” are directly contradicted by the Department of Homeland Security. The rational action by a Texas Attorney General would be to oppose the travel ban. Unfortunately, we have Ken Paxton. Note to the Texas Association of Business – I hope you’re paying as much attention to this as you have been to SB6. Rick Casey, who notes some familiar arguments in the lawsuit over the ban, has more.