Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is splitting with other states and defending President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.
Paxton filed an amicus brief, a document filed in courts of appeal by non-litigants with interest in a case, with the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday asking the court to reconsider its decision not to immediately reinstate the ban.
"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. "The safety of the American people and the security of our country are President Trump's major responsibilities under the law."
Paxton said the ban is a legal exercise of presidential authority and cited 8 U.S. Code § 1182, which states: "Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate."
A three-judge panel last Thursday refused to block a lower court decision that suspended the ban. The panel rejected the Trump administration's claim of presidential authority and concluded that the order was unlikely to survive the legal challenge mounted by the states of Washington and Minnesota.
The 9th Circuit will decide whether to have a larger panel of judges reconsider that decision.
NBC 5 political reporter Julie Fine spoke to Paxton and asked why he decided to file this brief. Texas is the first state to file support of the president's executive order.
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"The reason I decided to do this, we are already struggling with this issue under the Obama administration, so we have been involved in this issue for the last year or year-and-a-half. So when I saw the president do this, when we saw the law, we wanted to support this effort, because this is the first real effort to stop these people from coming in that potentially cause great security risk to our state," said Paxton.
Fine also asked Paxton if he thinks there is a direct threat in Texas from refugees coming into the state.
"I think the risk is high, because we don't know who they are. If we are going to let them in from terrorist countries, we ought to know who they are," he said.