The guidelines that dictate who can enter the country under President Donald Trump’s travel ban remain in place after a federal appeals court declined to block the policy or further clarify its terms.
The state of Hawaii and a local imam, both plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the ban, had asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the Trump administration from denying entry to some travelers and refugees with connections to the United States.
In an order issued Friday, the appeals court said the power to halt the ban’s implementation remained outside its jurisdiction because the plaintiffs had not sought an injunction from the lower court.
The decision marked a second straight legal setback for opponents of the ban, who seek to broaden the universe of who can enter the U.S. under Trump’s contentious executive order.
On Thursday, a federal judge in Honolulu refused to further clarify who should be allowed to bypass the ban, which halts the issuance of new visas to six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and pauses the refugee resettlement program for 120 days.
The Supreme Court last week allowed the travel ban to go partially into effect, but carved out an exception for people who have “bona fide” ties to a person or entity in the U.S.
Based on a reading of the Supreme Court’s order and federal immigration law, the Trump administration crafted guidelines that allowed some travelers to circumvent the ban — parents, spouses and children, for instance — but blocked other “extended” family members.
In the order issued Friday, the 9th Circuit appeared to signal the lower court could still consider blocking the ban, if the plaintiffs decide to retry that venue.
“Although the district court may not have authority to clarify an order of the Supreme Court,” the three-judge panel wrote, “it does possess the ability to interpret and enforce the Supreme Court’s order, as well as the authority to enjoin against, for example, a party’s violation of the Supreme Court’s order."