MADISON, Wis. – A federal judge should let President Donald Trump's travel ban apply to a Syrian family trying to relocate to Wisconsin, U.S. Justice Department attorneys argue in a new court filing.
The case revolves around a Syrian Muslim who fled the war-torn country in 2014 and settled in Wisconsin. He's been working since last year to win asylum for his wife and 3-year-old daughter, who remain in Aleppo. They were trying to obtain visas when Trump issued his first travel ban in January.
The man filed a federal lawsuit in Madison asking a judge to block the ban from applying to his family so they could continue the visa process. U.S. District Judge William Conley declared that request moot last month after a federal judge in Washington blocked the ban. The family is now slated to travel to the U.S. embassy in Jordan next month for visa interviews.
Trump has since issued another ban, however, temporarily prohibiting travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria, from entering the United States. The new order prompted the man to renew his request last week.
He argued the new ban is anti-Muslim and violates his rights to freedom of religion and due process. Conley issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting immigration officials from enforcing the ban against the man's wife and daughter, saying they're in danger daily. Now the man wants Conley to issue an injunction, which would further cement the court's protection.
Conley has set a hearing on the injunction request for Tuesday. The Justice Department filed a brief late Thursday night arguing against an injunction.
Agency attorneys wrote that the man's request is unnecessary since federal courts in Hawaii and Maryland completely blocked the ban this week. The order also includes waiver provisions for people who seek to reside with a family member admitted to the United States legally and the man can't show he's been harmed, they wrote.
The attorneys went on to say that the ban is a valid exercise of the president's authority to temporarily suspend certain classes of aliens from entering the country and the ban draws distinctions based on the risk of terrorism, not religion.
"More fundamentally, Plaintiff misses the point: the Order's objective is to prevent future terrorist attacks before they occur," the government's brief said.
According to the Syrian man's lawsuit, he fled his country to avoid near-certain death at the hands of two military factions, one fighting against President Bashar al-Assad's regime and another that supports it. Both sides thought he was working for the other; each faction tortured him and threatened to kill him. He didn't identify himself in the lawsuit to protect his family.
His attorney didn't immediately respond to an email message Friday morning.
Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1