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Advocates Challenged Trump Travel Ban in Federal Appeals Court

rally goers protesting trumps travel ban outside the u s court of appeals
Advocates gather outside the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to protest the Trump administration's travel ban. (Photo: Yasmine Jumaa/VPM)

*Whittney Evans contributed to this report. 

Editor’s note: this story is developing, check back for updates.

Civil rights groups made arguments in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond on Tuesday, challenging the Trump administration’s travel banon people from several Muslim-majority countries. The plaintiffs in the case are U.S. citizens and permanent residents whose relatives haven’t been able to enter the country as a result of the restrictions. 

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the travel ban, citing its“legitimate grounding in national security concerns, quite apart from any religious hostility.” Despite that ruling, a federal judge in Maryland allowed the constitutional challenge to go forward. The administration brought the case to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to fight that ruling.

The justice department said because SCOTUS ruled in favor of the ban, the challenges should be dismissed. 

The plaintiffs say they could prove that the travel restrictions are based in religious bias, if they were permitted to present evidence in the case, including anti-Muslim statements made by the president himself. 

After the hearings, dozens flocked downtown Richmond to protest the policy, which was announced three years ago. Among them was, Mana Kharrazi, an Iranian refugee and plaintiff in this case. 

“There are thousands of American families that are divided. There are spouses that are kept apart that are right now determining — are they going to have to move to a country that is dealing with state repression and violence and all sorts of turmoil, which is what these countries on the banned list are facing,” Kharrazi said.

Iman Boukadoum is an attorney with the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee. She said If the government claims that this policy is based on national security, then they should have nothing to hide. 

“They should open their books and let us see their worldwide vetting criteria,” Boukadoum said. “They refuse because they know there's nothing there. This is just more bigotry in the time of Trump.”

It’s unclear when the judges will rule on the case, but Boukadoum said the plaintiffs’ chances are slim — two of the three judges presiding over this case shot down previous attempts to end the ban. She said if that happens, civil rights groups may request a hearing with the full court, instead of just a panel of judges. 

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