Judge questions claim travel ban has Muslim bias

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SAN FRANCISCO — The Latest on the travel ban imposed by President Donald Trump (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

A federal judge is questioning claims that President Donald Trump’s travel ban amounts to hostility against Islam when the vast majority of Muslims in the world would not be affected.

Judge Richard R. Clifton of the The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said Tuesday that it’s hard to deny the terror concerns from the seven Muslim-majority countries covered by the ban.

He says the states haven’t presented evidence that it discriminates against Muslims as alleged by several states suing over the executive order.

Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell said the order doesn’t have to affect every Muslim for it to be unconstitutional, if it’s improperly based on religious discrimination.

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3:55 p.m.

A lawyer challenging President Donald Trump’s travel ban says that halting the executive order has not harmed the U.S. government.

Instead, Washington state Solicitor General Noah Purcell told a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on Tuesday that the order had harmed state residents.

Purcell says the ban has split up families, held up students trying to travel here to study and has prevented people from visiting family abroad.

Purcell says the ban affects thousands of Washington state residents.

Judge Richard R. Clifton says he suspects it’s a “small fraction” of the state’s residents.

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3:35 p.m.

Attorneys defending President Donald Trump’s travel ban say a number of Somalis in the U.S. have been connected to a terror group after federal judges asked for evidence that residents of seven Muslim-majority countries present a risk to the U.S.

Attorney August Flentje told judges Tuesday on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the case was moving fast and the government had not yet included evidence to support the president’s ban.

Judge Michelle Friedland asked if the government had connected any immigrants from those seven countries to terrorism. Flentje cited the Somalis in the U.S. tied to the al-Shabab terrorist group.

Flentje says the president has the right to assess the risk to national security and based the countries listed on determinations by Congress and his predecessor in the last two years.

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3:25 p.m.

Judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who are hearing arguments over President Donald Trump’s travel ban are expressing skepticism over the need for it.

Circuit Judge Michelle T. Friedland, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, asked whether the government has any evidence connecting the seven predominantly Muslim nations covered by the ban to terrorism.

August Flentje, special counsel to the assistant attorney general, who’s making arguments on behalf of the government, said the government is aware of some foreign nationals who have been arrested in the U.S. since Sept. 11 but he didn’t give details of the evidence.

He also said president has broad power to enforce national security.

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3:10 p.m.

Arguments have begun in a U.S. appeals court in a lawsuit over President Donald Trump’s travel ban.

A panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing Tuesday from the U.S. government and Attorneys general from several states that oppose the ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

A court spokesman says it was unlikely that the court would issue a ruling Tuesday.

A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump’s order last week. Washington state, Minnesota and other states say the appeals court should allow the temporary restraining order to stand as their lawsuit moves through the legal system.

The government is asking the court to restore Trump’s executive order, contending that the president alone has the power to decide who can enter or stay in the United States.

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3 p.m.

Maryland is suing over President Donald Trump’s travel ban, joining a series of states and groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Maryland and National Immigration Law Center filed the lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Maryland.

The groups argue that the executive order violates federal laws and the Constitution, saying it was “substantially motivated” by an intent to discriminate against Muslims. Plaintiffs include U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from countries named by the ban.

The lawsuit comes as a panel of judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals prepared to hear a case on the travel ban, which temporarily suspends the country’s refugee program and immigration from seven countries with terrorism concerns.

The Justice Department says the order was a “lawful exercise” of the president’s authority.

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2:45 p.m.

Civil rights groups have asked a New York judge to force the government to name anyone detained or rejected from U.S. entry after President Donald Trump signed the travel and refugee ban.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups also asked the federal judge to require the government to return to the United States anyone who was removed because of Trump’s order.

The request comes 10 days after a Brooklyn, New York, judge stopped the government from deporting people from nations subject to the travel ban.

The Justice Department has defended the executive order as a matter of national security. It has said Trump’s order affecting seven predominantly Muslim countries was within his authority.

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1:50 p.m.

A spokesman for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says it’s unlikely the court will issue a ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit over President Donald Trump’s travel and refugee ban.

Spokesman David Madden said a ruling is likely later this week.

He said the proceedings in San Francisco later Tuesday could last longer than 60 minutes depending on questioning by the judges. Each side has been granted 30 minutes of argument in the hearing, which will be held by telephone.

Washington state and Minnesota sued Trump last week, saying the ban harmed residents and effectively mandated discrimination.

The Justice Department says the issue is a matter of national security, and Trump’s executive order affecting seven predominantly Muslim countries was well within his authority.

The appellate court this weekend denied the Trump administration’s request to immediately set aside a Seattle judge’s ruling that put a hold on the ban nationwide.