On Monday, June 26, the United States Supreme Court partially lifted the injunctions by the lower courts on President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Visa applications for citizens from six Muslim-majority countries, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, have been suspended for a 90-day period, and the U.S Refugee Admissions Program has been frozen and barred from allow entry to refugees for 120 days. The revised travel ban was implemented 72 hours later on Thursday, June 29 at 8:00 P.M. (EST) and the court justices stated the order would be considered this October.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court stated, “In practical terms, this means that [the executive order] may not be enforced against foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. All other foreign nationals [of the six countries] are subject to the provisions of EO-2.”
Relationships that are considered “bona fide” include parents, spouses, fiancées, children, son or daughter-in-laws, and siblings. However, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts or uncles, nieces or nephews, cousins, and brother and sister-in-laws are not deemed “close family.” While the White House has sent out guidelines about what is considered a legitimate bona fide relationship, whether someone is allowed into the country ultimately remains open to interpretation of the Department of Homeland Security.
In an official statement from the White House, President Donald Trump stated that the decision was “a clear victory for our national security. My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe,” the same statement said. He added that “Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland. I am also particularly gratified that the Supreme Court’s decision was 9-0.”
Nonetheless, the travel ban has yet to be deemed to be unconstitutional, although many critics and the lower courts have broadly labelled the order as being Islamophobic and anti-American. As well, President Trump’s administration has not released specific reasons as to why citizens and refugees are being banned from these six countries despite the push from critics. Meanwhile, although President Trump referred to them as “terror-prone,” the rest of his administration has only provided broad descriptions of the countries.
The Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, Omar Jadwat, in a statement on Monday, said that “President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the fundamental constitutional principle that government cannot favor or disfavor any one religion. Courts have repeatedly blocked this indefensible and discriminatory ban. The Supreme Court now has a chance to permanently strike it down.”
Unlike the previous versions of his travel ban, Trump gave a lot of notice as to when the newest one would be implemented, likely in fear of backlash and inability of enforcement. In January, the President’s original travel ban saw widespread backlash and numerous U.S. airport protests due to the lack of warning and it was consequently blocked. On March 6, Trump signed a revised version, which removed Iraq from the list of countries, but injunctions were established by Hawaii and Maryland less than one day before it was to be enforced. However, in June, Trump expressed his discontent with the revised travel ban and Tweeted, “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we needed and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!” With that said, the travel ban may be temporary, but, it has many future implications, especially regarding the implementation and the President’s power over national security.
On the other hand, the Department of Homeland Security and its border patrol agents will have the most control to determine who can enter the U.S. and much of this power relies on opinion. In a statement, the DHS said that “The implementation of the Executive Order will be done professionally, with clear sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry.”
However, this ambiguity of a “bona fide relationship” could lead to chaotic scenes in U.S. airports, possibly even more strict procedures for entry, and large consequences for refugees who are seeking asylum in America.
“The Court’s ruling will leave refugees stranded in difficult and dangerous situations abroad, including those who have already waited a long time for U.S. resettlement,” said Hardy Vieux, the Legal Director of Human Rights First, in a press release. He added that “Many of these individuals may not have ‘bona fide relationships,’ but have strong reasons to look to the United States for protection.”
Most importantly, by the time October comes around, the political landscape will have changed and if the Court chooses to implement the travel ban permanently, President Trump will have a lot of power to determine the U.S.’s national-security regulations, no matter a person’s religion.
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