A U.S. appeals court will hear testimony on February 7 over whether to restore President Donald Trump's temporary ban on all refugees as well as travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco asked lawyers for the Justice Department and the states of Washington and Minnesota to present their arguments at 3 p.m. local time on whether to keep blocking the travel ban.
A Seattle court suspended Trump's immigration order on February 3, opening a window for people from Iran, Iraq, and other affected countries to enter.
The lawsuit has triggered an outpouring of opposition to the Trump order from more than a dozen U.S. states, former top diplomats, law enforcement officials, and global technology companies.
In a brief filed late on February 6, the Justice Department argued for limiting the court order blocking Trump's travel ban, saying it is too broad and should be narrowed to permit entry only of people who were already granted entry to the country and were temporarily abroad, or those who want to leave and return to the United States.
Trump insists his order is needed to protect the country against terrorism, while opponents say it is unconstitutional in barring entry on the basis of religion.
Moreover, lawyers for Washington and Minnesota told the appeals court that reinstating Trump's temporary travel ban would "unleash chaos again" in the country's airports, businesses, and families.
The Seattle judge's order received a furious response from Trump, who warned on February 5 that the courts could be placing Americans in "peril."
Speaking at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, on February 6, Trump defended the order.
"Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11," he said. "We need strong programs for people who love our country," Trump said, adding that "people who want to destroy us and destroy our country" should not be allowed in.
The White House, meanwhile, is confident that it will prevail, spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on February 6.
"Clearly the law is on the president's side," he said aboard Air Force 1. "He has broad discretion to do what's in the nation's best interest to protect our people, and we feel very confident that we will prevail in this matter."
The filing by lawyers for Washington state included a declaration by former top U.S. officials -- including former U.S. Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright -- expressing their concerns about Trump’s order, which they called "ill-conceived, poorly implemented, and ill-explained."
They added that the order harms national security, saying that "we risk placing our military efforts at risk by sending an insulting message" to Iraqis working with U.S. forces battling the extremist group Islamic State (IS) there.
"The order will likely feed the recruitment narrative of [IS] and other extremists that portray the United States as at war with Islam," they also said.
Lawyers for prominent U.S. technology companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft also lodged arguments with the appeals court in San Francisco, arguing that Trump's order "inflicts significant harm on American business."
With reporting by AFP, Reuters, AP, and The New York Times