On Monday, the US Supreme Court partially revived President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, agreeing to hear arguments in October and allowing the administration to suspend travel for some foreign nationals and refugees until it decides the case. Trump immediately took to Twitter to declare triumph, but many travellers he hoped to ban can still enter the US, claiming their own victory.
And the Court has not reached the merits of the case that pits executive power on issues of immigration and national security against prohibitions on religious discrimination. That, along with a host of other legal issues, are weighty determinations the Court may be eager to avoid.
Until the Court issues its final decision, the ban ‘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’. That connection would allow those with familial ties and students and employees to enter. But for those who cannot satisfy the requisite connection, the Court held, “the balance tips in favor of the Government’s compelling need to provide for the Nation’s security”.
The stay, which is likely to take effect on June 29, elicited concern about how the standard would be interpreted and implemented, leaving some foreign nationals uncertain about whether their connections to the US would suffice.
Trump issued his first immigration order in January with little advance notice, barring travel from seven Muslim-majority countries - Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya - for 90 days, and suspending the refugee programme for 120 days, with an indefinite restriction on Syrian refugees. The initial order, implemented while some travellers were already en route, led to chaos at airports. Following protests and court challenges, the administration issued a second version of the order on March 6, which removed Iraq from the list, lifted the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees and exempted those with valid visas.
The revised order was crafted to deflect criticisms that its predecessor was motivated by bias, not national security concerns, by outlining its justification that the designated countries ‘present heightened threats’ because ‘each of these countries is a state sponsor of terrorism, has been significantly compromised by terrorist organizations, or contains active conflict zones’. Trump later disparaged the revised ban as a ‘watered down, politically correct version’.
Trump claimed the travel ban was a temporary pause necessary to allow his administration time to review its internal procedures and develop ‘extreme vetting’ protocols without the burden of processing ongoing travel applications. But Trump’s national security urgency is belied by his administration’s delays in developing the safeguards whose absence it claims imperils the country and justifies the ban.
The orders ignited a firestorm of outrage at the logic underpinning the ban. Critics swiftly pointed out that none of the perpetrators of terror in the US hailed from listed countries and that the ban failed to include countries from which they originated.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘The Muslim ban: Did Trump really win?’