Over the past year, various versions of a travel ban on certain countries have been proposed. The first two versions were turned down, however, after months of deliberation the US Supreme Court has voted to uphold the ban as an acceptable exercise of executive power, with a few minor changes. Resulting in a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court of the United States was deeply divided over the issue. Chief Justice John Roberts stated that “‘the proclamation is squarely within the scope of presidential authority'” and is a “‘sufficient national security justification.'” However, he also noted “we express no view on the soundness of the policy”(usatoday.com).
Overview of Trump’s Travel Bans: What this Decision Means
The first travel ban was ordered by President Trump in January 2017. It was a 90-day ban on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and a 120-day ban on refugees worldwide. This ban was overturned by federal and appeals courts the next month.
Version two of the travel ban was issued in March 2017. This ban removed Iraq from the list of affected nations and exempted visa and green card holders. It was also stuck down.
The third version was issued in September 2017, subtracting Sudan, adding Chad, North Korea, and government officials of Venezuela. This version set unique criteria for each country affected and made the impacts indefinite rather than for a set time period. Though it was struck down again by federal courts, the Supreme Court justices allowed it to go into effect in December. They scheduled it for oral argument in January.
This final version that has been upheld removed Chad from the list in April, along with North Korea and Venezuela. Prior to the Supreme Court decision, almost 150 million residents of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen were waiting to hear the decision that would impact their future in the United States.
Exemptions to the ban are made for certain individuals, such as lawful permanent residents of the US and certain other categories of applicants. The ban also contains a provision that those who do not qualify under one of the exempt categories, may be considered for waivers under special circumstances. This includes a need for urgent medical care, or the facilitation of adoptions. Additionally, waivers may be granted to those who previously held visas who want to return to the US for work or study, as well as individuals with significant business obligations or close ties to family members in the United States.
Opposition to the Supreme Court Decision
As evidenced by the 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court was quite divided over this decision. The court’s four liberal justices all dissented, and spoke against the ban, claiming it showed clear “evidence of anti-religious bias” and was merely masquerading as a constitutional decision to maintain national security. In fact, many have challenged the ban, calling into question its constitutionality based on elements of religious discrimination against Muslims.
Justice Roberts, however, said the ban “‘says nothing about religion'” and that “only 8% of the world’s Muslim population is affected” (usatoday.com). This opinion is shared by some judges and legal analysts who claim that Trump’s words during his campaign cannot be used as evidence for constitutional violation in interpreting an executive order that is devoid of religious content on the surface.
Also in opposition is Neal Katyal, the former US acting solicitor general who argued the case against the travel ban. He claims that “the final chapter has not yet been written…the travel ban is an atrocious policy and makes us less safe and undermines our American ideals…now that the court has upheld it, it is up to Congress to do its job and reverse…[the] travel ban.”
What to Do if You Think You’ll be Affected
The future of immigration is unknown now that the travel ban has been upheld. Immigration laws in the United States have been in constant debate over the past year, and it is unclear when a decision will be made, if and how it will impact this recent decision. However, if you are a resident of one of the countries included in the ban and had planned to travel or immigrate to the US, you could be affected if you do not already have a visa.
We are here to help if you have any questions or concerns! If you are asking yourself, will I be affected by this travel ban, you may want to speak to a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant.If you are unsure of your eligibility to come to the United States now, or are unsure if and how this ban affects you, please fill out our free online assessment and we will get back to you within 24 hours. We will let you know your options, as well as how we can best assist you.