The US Supreme Court kept the Trump administration's strict refugee ban in place Monday, at least temporarily dashing the hopes of some 24,000 already-approved immigrants.
By way of explaining the Justice Department's different treatment of the rulings, lawyers noted that "the government already has been applying the lower courts' reading of close family members, whereas the Ninth Circuit's refugee-assurance ruling would upend the status quo and do far greater harm to the national interest".
"This Court's ruling can not plausibly bear that construction, which would as a practical matter render the partial stay this Court granted as to the refugee provisions a dead letter", the administration said. The Supreme Court in July largely upheld that ruling, though it put on hold the portion dealing with refugees.
The government had asked for a "temporary administrative stay" to give the justices time to consider the issue.
US President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling last week blocking the administration from denying entrance to refugees who have formal assurances from resettlement agencies or are in the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, The Hill reports.
The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to step in again - though only to block refugees, not grandparents and other extended family members. The justices are scheduled to hear arguments October 10 on a pair of cases related to the ban. Nor can the exclusion of an assured refugee plausibly be thought to "burden' a resettlement agency in the relevant sense", Wall wrote in the request to the Supreme Court for a stay.
As lower courts and the Supreme Court weighed in on the travel and refugee bans in recent months, the US refugee program has lurched from an ambitious projection of 110,000 arrivals for the year, to just a few hundred arrivals a week.
In response to a Monday morning emergency request from the Justice Department, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy agreed to halt the appellate court's ruling "pending receipt of" a response from those suing over the ban, which he said is due Tuesday at noon (1400GMT). The same executive order included a 120-day ban on refugees.