A US court has refused to reinstate Donald Trump’s ban on travellers from seven predominantly-Muslim nations.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco refused to block a lower-court ruling that suspended the ban and allowed previously-barred travellers to enter the US.
An appeal to the US Supreme Court is possible.
US District Judge James Robart, sitting in Seattle, issued a temporary restraining order halting the ban last week after Washington state and Minnesota sued.
The US Justice Department appealed to the San Francisco court, where government lawyers argued that the ban was a “lawful exercise” of the president’s authority and that the seven countries had raised terrorism concerns.
The states said Mr Trump’s executive order unconstitutionally blocked entry based on religion.
In its unanimous decision, the appeal court rejected the Trump administration’s claim that the court did not have the authority to review the president’s executive order.
The panel of three judges noted that Washington and Minnesota had raised serious allegations about religious discrimination.
The court said the government had not shown a likelihood it would succeed in appealing to reinstate the travel ban, nor had it shown that failure to reinstate the ban would cause irreparable injury.
The panel said Washington proved it had the legal right to bring its lawsuit by claiming its universities would suffer harm – one of the questions that the judges considered.
Universities have complained about students and staff becoming stranded overseas.
The appeal judges said the government presented no evidence to explain the urgent need for Mr Trump’s executive order to take effect immediately and said courts have the authority to review presidential orders on immigration and national security.
The appeal court said the government had not pointed to any evidence that anyone from the countries named in the executive order had committed a “terrorist attack” in the US.
The panel said: “Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the executive order, the government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all.
“We disagree, as explained above”.