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US Justice Department backs out of appeal on travel ban block

The US Department of Justice has asked a court to dismiss its own appeal on the ruling that blocked Donald Trump's old travel ban. The US president has since signed a new measure, which also might face legal challenges.

The US officials filed the motion to end the appeal before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, after the White House issued a new version of the measure.

The original ban, which came into effect immediately after President Trump signed it in late January, halted all refugee admissions and temporarily banned entry to all travelers holding passports of Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Numerous activists and politicians slammed the ban as discriminatory against Muslims. The US states of Washington and Minnesota sued to stop the ban, claiming it was unconstitutional, and a federal judge in Seattle suspended it until the final decision could be made.

Responding to the suspension, the US Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit Court.

Waiting for Hawaii

Faced with legal obstacles, the Trump administration issued a new, narrower ban on Monday, which leaves out Iraq and only applies to new visa applicants. Similar to the previous version of the measure, it also suspends the entire US refugee program for 120 days. However, it allows entry to refugees who were already formally scheduled for travel by the State Department.

This development prompted the Justice Department to pull the appeal and agree to pay court expenses. Washington state and Minnesota agreed to the proposal.

The new ban is set to go into effect on March 16th.

On Monday, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said his office was still evaluating the new ban and deciding whether it will challenge it in court.  The decision should be made by the end of the week, he said.

According to unconfirmed reports, the US state of Hawaii is already preparing a legal challenge to the new ban.

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dj/bw (Reuters, AP)

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