Sixteen states filed briefs with the Supreme Court on Monday asking that President Donald Trump's travel ban policy be reinstated, saying his executive order was "emphatically not a 'Muslim ban.'"
The states maintained U.S. law contained many examples where the government applied immigration policies to certain groups differently and the president was well within his right to issue the order, The Washington Times reported Tuesday.
"The Executive Order classifies aliens by nationality — not religion. The Order's temporary pause in entry by nationals from six countries and in the refugee program neither mentions any religion nor depends on whether affected aliens are Muslim," the states said. "The Executive Order therefore is emphatically not a 'Muslim ban.'"
States signing the brief were Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant.
Lower courts placed a temporary stay on the order, and last week the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to consider lifting the injunctions on the president's revised order.
The White House maintained the issue was one of national security, and the order states the countries involved "sponsor or shelter terrorism."
The revised order would require a 90-day halt from many people seeking to enter the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — all countries that Congress and the administration of former President Barack Obama identified as having connections to terrorism. Each country involved has mostly-Muslim populations.
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