President Trump's ban on six Muslim-majority countries in Africa and the Middle East was heard by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA Friday.
The controversial ban, which was allowed to go forward by the U.S.
The 4th Circuit has been asked to overturn a decision by a Maryland judge whose injunction in October barred the administration from enforcing the ban against those travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen who have bona fide relationships with people or organizations in the U.S. Please refer to our alert on this travel ban here.
"National security is our top priority in visa operations", the State Department said.
The department said it began fully implementing the ban at the opening of business at all USA embassies and consulates on Friday. The Trump administration believes it's necessary for this ban because the countries listed are not adequately sharing security information with the United States, he said.
The department said it would not revoke any existing visas, and that the new restrictions were not meant to be permanent.
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"Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shut down of Muslims entering the United States until our countries representatives can figure out what the hell is going on", said then presidential candidate Trump about himself during a campaign speech.
"Do we just ignore reality and look at the legality to determine how to handle this case?" Several judges, however, appeared skeptical. Judge James Wynn asked.
"This is a wholesale ban of 150 million-plus nationals based on the hope and expectation that this will incentivize the nations to cooperate".
The order, which was given the go-ahead by the Supreme Court on Monday, restricts travelers to varying degrees from eight countries, six of them with Muslim-majority populations.
It is unclear when the appeals courts will rule, though both sides expect the U.S. Supreme Court will ultimately decide on the legality of the ban.