Ninth Circuit Upholds Block to the Travel Ban. How Are Texans Reacting?

Refugees Services of Texas says the ruling is uplifting. But some Texas legislators say it’s “outrageous.”

By Laura Rice & Rhonda FanningFebruary 14, 2017 9:06 am,

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday not to reinstate President Donald Trump’s executive order banning refugees and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. The unanimous decision by a three-judge panel means that, for now, the stay blocking the ban will remain in place.

Trump took to Twitter immediately following the decision and threatened to challenge the ruling in court.

Denise Gilman, the director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, says that the issue will continue to play out in court regardless of the steps the Trump administration takes. The rulings are “still very preliminary” she says, and there are a couple of ways the administration might proceed.

It might seek to have the full Ninth Circuit Court review the decision of the three-member panel or it may take the matter before the Supreme Court.

“I think there’s little likelihood that at this preliminary stage the Supreme Court will take up the issues, but that is an option to seek that review,” Gilman says.

As of now, the courts have only weighed in on the merits of the executive order itself, focusing on whether it was within Trump’s purview to issue the ban and whether it is constitutional. The intent of the ban – whether it was designed to intentionally target Muslims – has yet to come up.

“This particular court has decided only that there are serious procedural problems with the executive order,” Gilman says, “and that it shouldn’t be implemented quickly without any opportunity for people to have some due process … if their cases and their situations are going to be affected so dramatically.”

She says that the issue of religious discrimination will likely be discussed once the courts begin to consider the constitutionality of the ban.

Refugee resettlement organizations across the country were closely watching the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling.

“It was encouraging,” says Aaron Rippenkroeger, the president and CEO of Refugee Services of Texas. “Unfortunately we know that we’re still perhaps in the early stages of this process and so there’s a long way to go, but every day is an opportunity for us to welcome another family.”

On Monday, Refugee Services of Texas welcomed a Syrian family of six to Austin. The family was originally scheduled to arrive the week before, but their flight was canceled after the ban went into effect.

“As they’re coming down the stairs [of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport] and to have many members of [St. Michael’s Episcopal Church] waiting for them … with signs and flowers and gifts, it’s just extremely heartwarming,” Rippenkroeger says. “We’re so happy that they made it through.”

Refugee resettlement organizations nationwide have been caught in limbo since Trump first announced the executive order.

“It is very challenging, but we’re resilient,” Rippenkroeger says. “This is not the first time that this program has had its ups and downs.”

Right now, he says he and his staff are focused on each day at a time.

But the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling was not celebrated by everyone.

U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler) appeared on Fox and Friends on Friday to criticize the court’s ruling, calling it “outrageous.”

“The president’s trying to protect the American public,” Gohmert said. “The White House should immediately reissue the executive order but include in there what the White House had already explained – that it didn’t apply to people that already had their green cards.”

Written by Molly Smith.