An appeal court has delivered a fresh blow to Donald Trump’s proposed travel ban on nationals from six mainly Muslim countries along with Venezuela and North Korea.
A panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals – one of two panels reviewing the third version of the ban – ruled on Friday that it unlawfully discriminated against travellers.
The judgment has left the ban which applies to more than 150 million people in a confused state of legal limbo.
Earlier this month the US Supreme Court said that the latest iteration of the travel ban, which was introduced in September, could be fully enforced pending an appeal.
Although 9th Circuit Court declared the ban unlawful, it said the administration could continue to impose curbs on the entry from both the middle-eastern and north African nations if they have no family or institutional links with the US.
Donald Trumps travel ban
But it should not be applied to people with strong US ties.
During the presidential election, Donald Trump proposed imposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US. In office, the ban was watered down to cover citizens of a number of Muslim majority countries.
But to the fury of the US president, the ban has been repeatedly knocked back by the courts.
Mr Trump was confident that the latest version would pass legal muster.
It imposed a ban on citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. The curbs were also extended to cover senior officials from Venezuela and their families.
"Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet," Mr Trump said in a tweet. The September version of the ban was more tightly drawn than its predecessors, but it failed to convince the appeal court.
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"We conclude that the President’s issuance of the Proclamation once again exceeds the scope of his delegated authority," the court said in its ruling.
The judgment by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers a number of western states, is the first of the latest batch of challenges to the ban.
A second challenge is due to be heard at the appeal court in Richmond, Virginia.
The case is then expected to return to the Supreme Court for a definitive ruling.