The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to stop part of an appeals court ruling from going into effect that would limit enforcement of President Trump's refugee ban.
The ruling would have taken affect on Tuesday, reopening the door to 24,000 people left in limbo by President Donald Trump's on-again off-again travel ban. The Justice Department said it disagreed with that interpretation, but noted the U.S. Supreme Court had refused to disturb that finding pending appeal.
Mr. Trump's order halts entry into the United States by citizens of the six banned countries for 90 days and suspends refugee admissions for 120 days.
The Justice Department did not ask the court to immediately block a separate part of last Thursday's ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of legal U.S. residents should be exempted from Trump's ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries.
The court, however, left the door open for opponents of the ban to file their arguments against it by midday Tuesday, paving the way for yet another reversal on the status of possible refugee arrivals.
What isn't settled is a lower court order protecting refugees who do not have close family members in the United States.
The dispute taken to the justices Monday addresses how much of the travel ban can be enforced until the Supreme Court rules on the broader issues.
The travel ban bars people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the US. Even those refugees with formal assurances from a resettlement agency lack the sort of connection that should exempt them from the ban, the Justice Department argued in its filing to the Supreme Court.
The order is temporary, and will likely last until the full Court weighs the refugee ban.
It also said relatives of those already in the country could not be prevented from entering the U.S. An earlier round of litigation, however, repudiated the Trump administration's narrow definition, and that issue appears settled for the time being.