WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Trump administration to fully enforce a ban on travel to the United States by residents of six mostly Muslim countries.
This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.
But the action indicates that the high court might eventually approve the latest version of the ban, announced by President Donald Trump in September. Lower courts have continued to find problems with the policy.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the White House is “not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism.”
Opponents of this and previous versions of the ban say they show a bias against Muslims. They say that was reinforced most recently by Trump’s retweets of anti-Muslim videos.
“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret. He has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter. It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. The ACLU is representing some opponents of the ban.
Just two justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, noted their disagreement with court orders allowing the latest policy to take full effect.
The new policy is not expected to cause the chaos that ensued at airports when Trump rolled out his first ban without warning in January.
The ban applies to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Lower courts had said people from those nations with a claim of a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be kept out of the country. Grandparents, cousins and other relatives were among those courts said could not be excluded.
The courts were borrowing language the Supreme Court itself came up with last summer to allow partial enforcement of an earlier version of the ban.
Now, those relationships will no longer provide a blanket exemption from the ban, although visa officials can make exceptions on a case-by-case basis.
The justices offered no explanation for their order, but the administration had said that blocking the full ban was causing “irreparable harm” because the policy is based on legitimate national security and foreign policy concerns.
In lawsuits filed in Hawaii and Maryland, federal courts said the updated travel ban violated federal immigration law. The travel policy also applies to travelers from North Korea and to some Venezuelan government officials and their families, but the lawsuits did not challenge those restrictions. Also unaffected are refugees. A temporary ban on refugees expired in October.
All the rulings so far have been on a preliminary basis. The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, will be holding arguments on the legality of the ban this week.
David Levine, a University of California Hastings law school professor, said that by allowing the ban to take effect just days before the appeals court arguments, the justices were signaling their view.
“I think it’s tipping the hand of the Supreme Court,” Levine said. “It suggests that from their understanding, the government is more likely to prevail on the merits than we might have thought.”
Both appeals courts are dealing with the issue on an accelerated basis, and the Supreme Court noted it expects those courts to reach decisions “with appropriate dispatch.”
Quick resolution by appellate courts would allow the Supreme Court to hear and decide the issue this term, by the end of June.
A former U.S. Marine who works as a private security contractor took to Facebook to warn of the dangers Americans still face in Iraq.
Steven Gern’s video, which was posted from Iraq and has been viewed more than 44 million times, came just a few days after President Trump’s executive order triggered massive protests at U.S. airports.
The order temporarily banned travel from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Gern relayed a short message about conversations he had about the controversial order with Iraqis. He said he asked them what would happen if he, an American, “went out in town.”
“[I asked] would I be welcome? And they instantly said, ‘Absolutely not. You would not be welcome,'” Gern recalled.
“And I said, ‘OK. What would happen if I went out in town?’ And they said the locals would snatch me up and kill me within an hour,” said Gern, adding that he what their answer would be.
Gern said he wanted to let Americans back home know what’s going on in one of the countries covered by the order, which has now been struck down by the courts.
“This is the local populace that would do this. This isn’t ISIS, this isn’t al Qaeda,” he added.
He said he then asked, “if you would do this to me in your country, why would I let you in my country?”
Gern said many Americans are “naive” about how people in Iraq and other countries actually feel about Americans.
Trump has argued that the ban is necessary for national security in order to make sure “extreme vetting” procedures are enacted.
After the post went viral, the Dallas native was informed by his private security contractor that he would need to return to the United States because his life was in danger, FOX Dallas reported.
On “Hannity” tonight, Gern said that he saw firsthand that our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan are “very good at manipulation,” so “extreme vetting” is absolutely necessary.
“They can tell you what they want you to hear and they can keep that up for many, many years,” Gern said. “And then, eventually when it’s time, they’ll do what they believe is right.”
“If that is to hurt an American – or hurt many of us at one time – they’re going to do it.”
President Donald Trump said Friday he’s “terribly confident” his administration would prevail in an ongoing legal fight over his seven-nation travel ban, and hinted he is preparing to “rapidly” take more action to enhance national security within a week.
“Ultimately I have no doubt that we will win that particular case.” said Trump, appearing at a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. “One of the reasons I’m standing here today [is] the security of our country. The voters felt I would give it the best security.”
Meanwhile, “We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security,” Trump continued, without specifying. “You’ll be seeing that sometime next week.”
It was his first remarks since a three-judge panel of the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday unanimously rejected the Trump administration’s request to drop a lower-court ruling suspending the White House travel ban.
Just days after he was inaugurated, Trump signed an executive order enacting a sweeping ban on U.S. entry for refugees, immigrants and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. The president said the ban is necessary to protect the nation from a terrorist attack, but the states of Washington and Minnesota successfully sued to temporarily block the order.
Several other states around the country have also challenged the order in federal court.
In the brief press conference, Trump said he has “learned tremendous things” during his brief time in office, and he signed the ban “because I saw what was happening,” apparently referring to classified national security briefings.
Though he declined to specify what he plans to do next week, Trump pledged to do “whatever is necessary to keep our country safe.”