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Immigration White House

Trump may not appeal to Supreme Court on travel ban, plans new, narrower order

 (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
(Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

President Trump said Friday that he was considering a new executive order limiting immigration, and White House aides confirmed that the administration may decide not to go to the Supreme Court to defend his current travel ban.

The administration has "a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he flew to Florida with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The new order would not come until next week, Trump added.

Officials said the administration still planned to defend its legal position before either the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals or the federal district court in Seattle, which have temporarily blocked Trump's current travel ban from taking effect.

"We are actively pursuing changes or other EOs that will keep our country safe from terrorism," said a senior administration official, referring to further executive orders.

"The TRO we would not take to the Supreme Court," the official said, referring to the existing court order.

Subsequently, however, a senior official said that the question of whether to ask for Supreme Court review remained undecided.

"We are reviewing all of our options in the court system," the official said.

The federal court in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order a week ago that blocked Trump from enforcing his travel ban. The court of appeals upheld that order Thursday night.

The courts have planned to hold further hearings on whether to issue a permanent injunction. Trump's new orders, which are expected to be more narrowly focused, could make the existing cases moot, however.

The current order, which Trump issued on Jan. 27, made several changes in U.S. immigration policy. It banned entry by citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, It also temporarily banned all refugee entries into the U.S. and indefinitely suspended the admission of Syrian refugees. And it created a preference for refugees who are members of persecuted religious minorities.

The administration now seems likely to rescind that order and issue one or more new ones that would suspend refugee admissions and limit new visas from a specific list of countries, according to an administration official familiar with the internal deliberations.

The new orders would allow everyone who already holds a visa or refugee status to keep it. Doing that would eliminate the bulk of the legal flaws that courts have focused on so far.

“The team is reviewing options" to present to the president. "But ultimately it's all short term anyway because we are going to prevail on the merits of the case,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

3:10 p.m.: This story was updated with President Trump's comment on Air Force One and more details of the administration's plans.

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