For many who have been staying current on the news since the inauguration of Donald Trump, the experience has been an unpleasant roller coaster ride.
The Trump Administration ban on immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries was announced out January — a mere eight days after his inauguration. A federal court almost immediately halted the executive order. Then, a revised version was released, followed by yet another block from another federal court.
Yesterday, after months of protests and appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court unfortunately allowed a limited version of Trump’s ban to take effect and has agreed to review multiple rulings by lower courts blocking the travel ban.
While the impact this ruling will have on immigrants and their families isn’t immediately known, it’s more harsh and unwelcome news from an administration that’s been openly hostile to immigrants and people of color.
The Travel Ban, A Brief Timeline
A good breakdown of the history of Trump’s travel bans can be found at CNN.com. The timeline details the following events:
On January 28, President Trump announced the first travel ban, by way of executive order. The action banned citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. The ban also indefinitely halted the immigration of refugees from Syria.
The ban was partially blocked a day later by a federal court in New York. In that ruling, Federal Judge Ann M. Donnelly ruled that the ban could potentially violate due process rights.
Additionally, lawyers representing two lawful permanent residents employed stateside as college professors filed suit in Massachusetts. The judge in that case issued a partial restraining order against the ban stating that the government could not detain or remove those who arrived in the U.S. legally from the black listed countries.
In February, the ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against reinstating the ban.
On March 6, Trump unveiled a new ban that excluded Iraq from the original list of banned Muslim majority countries. This iteration of the ban prohibited citizens from the listed countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. All refugees wanting to come to the U.S. meanwhile, would be delayed 120 days. Within a week, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked the order a ruling that was extended on March 29.
According to CNN, Federal Judge Derrick Watson argued that by singling out Muslims, the ban likely violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court Gets Involved
Yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court allows the Trump ban to proceed, although limitations are imposed on its reach.
The limited ban will prevent travelers from the six listed countries from coming to the U.S. if they don’t have a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S.
Theoretically, foreign nationals whose visas have been sponsored by a family member or employer will still be allowed to travel to the U.S.
According to National Public Radio (NPR), some of the court’s most conservative justices — Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, along with newcomer and Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch— wanted to approve the ban completely.
The court’s 13-page decision stated that all nine justices agreed to review the lower courts’ rulings on the travel ban.
Why It Matters
While there is cause for hope in the court’s decision to temporarily limit the scope of the ban, a particularly disturbing aspect remains. Typically the Supreme Court is hesitant to get involved in cases decided upon by lower courts unless the lower courts are divided on an issue. In this case, the two federal courts that ruled on the issue earlier this year, the 4th circuit and 9th circuit, both ruled in favor of halting the ban.
For now, it appears there will be more uncertainty for those in the immigrant community as the highest court in the land prepares to consider the case. If you have legal questions about the immigration process or how it will be affected by recent events in Washington D.C., contact our office for more information.