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Trump May Sign Replacement Immigration Order

President Trump appears at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe


February 12, 2017

President Trump said Friday his administration is weighing its response to its setback Thursday when an appeals court threw his recent immigration executive order into judicial limbo.

The government is likely to return to district court to argue the merits of its case, but will not seek to appeal the temporary restraining order before the U.S. Supreme Court, a White House official said. The president and his legal advisers are examining the option of a new, replacement executive order to satisfy Trump’s desire for a speedy remedy.

In remarks to reporters flying with him Friday evening to Florida, the president said he is considering signing and filing a “brand new order.” He said, “We need speed for reasons of security, so it very well could be [a replacement executive order].”

The president told reporters on the flight that his response could come as early as Monday or Tuesday.

Trump also is considering announcing additional policy steps, which the White House official described to RealClearPolitics as “security related.” Those orders or policy instructions could also emerge next week.

The president vowed via a tweet Thursday evening to press the government’s case through the judicial branch. “SEE YOU IN COURT,” he wrote.

But less than 24 hours later, Trump hedged his response when asked if he would rescind his original order barring some travelers and refugees from the United States, and replace it with a version modified to address legal vulnerabilities described by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with the additional security for our country,” the president told reporters during an East Room news conference Friday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“You’ll be seeing that some time next week. In addition, we will continue to go through the court process and ultimately, I have no doubt we will win that particular case,” Trump added.

The government, seeking to defend the president’s Jan. 27 order barring travelers to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim nations and suspending acceptance of Syrian refugees, may defend Trump’s original order on the merits of his presidential power, and could simultaneously modify the order, which was intended to allow the administration time to create a system of “extreme vetting” to identify potential terrorists and lone-wolf attackers among foreign nationals seeking to enter the country.

In their decision, the appeals court judges advised the government, “It is not our role to try, in effect, to rewrite the executive order… For now, it is enough for us to conclude that the government has failed to establish that it will likely succeed on its due process argument in this appeal.”

The president on Friday focused his attention on his policy goals, rather than the government’s legal setback, and he did not repeat his suspicions, expressed earlier in the week, that the “so-called judge” in the district court was politically motivated.

“I feel totally confident that we will have tremendous security for the people of the United States,” the president said during the 18-minute news conference. “We will be [using] extreme vetting, which is a term that I developed early in my campaign, because I saw what was happening.”

The president’s order was temporarily halted by a U.S. District Court in Seattle, a decision reaffirmed on Thursday by judges with the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco. The three appeals judges ruled unanimously to reject the government’s effort to lift a temporary restraining order, meaning Trump’s immigration ban remains in abeyance. Administration attorneys are preparing several fallback strategies, even as the president asserted with confidence his administration would prevail on the merits, based on his statutory power as president to issue policies related to national security.

“We’ll be going forward and we’ll be doing things to continue to make our country safe,” Trump said Friday. “It will happen rapidly and we will not allow people into our country who are looking to do harm to our people. We will allow lots of people into our country that will love our people and do good for our country. It’s always going be that way, at least during my administration, I can tell you that,” he added.

Trump was to host the Japanese prime minister over the weekend, and will meet at the White House with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday and with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday.

Trump and Abe, who first met in New York in November, continued what they described as friendly discussions over lunch before departing the White House to share a golf-studded weekend in Palm Beach, where the president planned to host Abe at his properties as a gift. Their White House meeting was replete with muscular handshakes in front of the cameras in the Oval Office, pantomimed golf swings in preparation for the weekend recreation, and Abe’s repeated references to the president as “Donald.”

First Lady Melania Trump, who continues to reside in New York City, joined the president at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland for the Air Force One flight to Florida along with the prime minister and his wife, Akie Abe.