Trump Wins Travel Ban Battle in Supreme Court

Full ban to take effect as lower courts continue to hear appeals
December 4, 2017 Updated: January 8, 2018

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court has ruled that President Donald Trump’s newest travel ban for seven terror-prone countries can go into full effect.

Seven of the nine Supreme Court justices ruled in favor of Trump’s Sept. 24 proclamation that nearly all citizens of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen be banned indefinitely from entering the United States as of Oct. 18.

Citing national security threats, Trump also placed restrictions on some Venezuelan citizens and heightened scrutiny requirements for Iraqi citizens. Sudan had been placed on the initial travel ban list, but was later removed.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor dissented from the opinion.

The ruling said the ban can go into effect while the lower courts resolve the ongoing challenges against it.

We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country.
— President Donald Trump

Circuit courts had said that people from the affected countries who had a “bona fide” relationship with someone in the United States could not be banned from entering the country—including grandparents and cousins.

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said the president was not surprised by the Supreme Court decision.

“The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts,” Gidley said.  

The Immigration and Nationality Act states that the president may “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens” whenever he finds that “the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

Epoch Times Photo
The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington on Sept. 22, 2017. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

Trump’s September travel restrictions were his third attempt and were tailored to the countries involved, based on a review of almost 200 countries between March and July by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“We cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the past, which present an unacceptable danger to our country. My highest obligation is to ensure the safety and security of the American people,” Trump said in a statement at the time.

“The restrictions and limitations imposed by this proclamation are, in my judgment, necessary to prevent the entry of those foreign nationals about whom the United States government lacks sufficient information to assess the risks they pose to the United States.”

The new rules do not apply to legal permanent residents of the United States, and visas already issued to citizens from those countries were revoked. Once nonimmigrant visas expire, however, they are subject to the new restrictions. Citizens from most of the countries listed will be unable to emigrate under the new ban.

The DHS review identified countries that needed to provide more information with visa applications to satisfy U.S. authorities that the individual is not a security or public-safety threat.

A country was also examined if it was a known or potential terrorist safe haven; whether it is a participant in the visa waiver program; and whether it regularly refuses to take back its nationals who are subject to deportation from the United States.

The DHS initially identified 16 countries as being “inadequate” and 31 additional countries as “at risk” of becoming “inadequate,” based on its criteria.

The State Department then spent 50 days engaging with those countries to help them meet the criteria and avoid travel restrictions.

“Those engagements yielded significant improvements in many countries,” the proclamation in September stated. “Twenty-nine countries, for example, provided travel document exemplars for use by Department of Homeland Security officials to combat fraud. Eleven countries agreed to share information on known or suspected terrorists.”

The Supreme Court said it expected any appeals decisions to be rendered quickly.

Updated at 6:47 p.m. to add White House remarks.

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