Houston: Texas has become the first US state to support President Donald Trump’s travel ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations, defending his controversial executive order as a move to protect America. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an amicus brief with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday in support of the US Department of Justice.

“The law makes it very clear that the president has discretion to protect the safety of the American people and our nation’s institutions with respect to who can come into this country,” Paxton said in a statement. The brief follows court wrangling over President Trump’s January 27 executive order to bar people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days. The order banned refugees for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely.

The courts have put a temporary hold on the President’s ban. The amicus brief argues for broad executive power in the area of immigration. Texas also contends that Trump’s order does not target Muslims as is generally suggested.

Trump’s executive order targeted specific nationalities, not a religion, and the states could not support their legal challenge with the president’s campaign statements, it said. A total of 18 states and the District of Columbia are opposing the travel ban at the 9th Circuit. A group of 15 states led by New York filed an amicus brief arguing that the Trump order is unconstitutional.

A three judge bench last week had refused to remove the stay on the executive order by another federal court in Seattle. A broader set of 9th Circuit judges is now considering whether the stay request should be taken up by an 11-judge appeals court panel.

Texas has also supported some of Trump’s other plans to crack down on immigration, including a threat to withhold federal funds from “sanctuary cities.” It led the legal fight against former President Barack Obama’s plan to protect up to four million immigrants from deportation, joined by 25 other Republican-led states.

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