Monday, June 26, 2017

Court: Travel ban legality still up in the air; in the meantime, some restrictions will be allowed

The Supreme Court Monday breathed some life into Donald Trumps Muslim ban.

THE SUPREME COURT agreed Monday morning (June 26) to review Donald Trump's controversial executive order restricting travelers and refugees from entering the U.S. 

The court then allowed a watered down Trump's Muslim ban to go into effect by opening the door to the majority of travelers from the six targeted Muslim countries - family members, students, foreign employees, lecturers and business travelers. That includes refugees who are usually sponsored by a church or other human rights organization.

“Almost anyone coming to the U.S. who has a visa or who has been in the refugee program has some kind of tie to a U.S. person,” said Becca Heller, executive director of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

It is far from the "victory" claimed by a White House desperate for a "win" after being stymied by the courts and a Congress immobilized by infighting.  Two federal courts ruled that the Muslim ban was unconstitutional and questioned Trump's authority to order travel restrictions had ordered stays on Trump's executive orders.

"Most of the people who stood to be affected by the ban will still be allowed to come in," said Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. "So you know, I think it's significant that the court decided to take - to allow only this limited portion of the ban to move forward at this time. And of course, you know, the ultimate question about whether any of this is lawful or constitutional at remains to be decided. And all the court so far that have looked at it have - you know, there's kind of an overwhelming consensus among the courts that this cannot withstand that sort of scrutiny."

The Supreme Court voted unanimously to hear arguments for and against the travel ban during their next term which begins the first Monday of October. Historically, the court issues decisions in the spring. By then, the 90-120 day "pause" that the executive order asked for will be over and the court might just say the question is moot.

Despite the ACLU's assurances, that didn't stop travel ban opponents from expressing their concern.

“Today’s decision by the Supreme Court ignores the anti-Muslim bigotry that is at the heart of the travel ban executive orders and will inevitably embolden Islamophobes in the administration to expand efforts to target the Muslim community with unconstitutional and counterproductive policies," said a statement from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). "It also ignores the almost-unanimous rejection of the Muslim ban by lower courts due to its religious intolerance and racial animus."

"The administration’s Muslim ban foments disturbing trends of anti-Muslim sentiments within the U.S. and abroad," agreed the Asian Americans Advancing Justice. "The Supreme Court should not have allowed any part of the Muslim ban to move forward while this executive order is under review.

"The Muslim ban restrains travel and freedom of movement for the communities affected without a rational basis. Any attempt to limit travel based on religion or country of origin is an egregious attack on the Constitution," says the AAAJ.

"From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II to the Muslim ban today, xenophobia has fanned the flames of fear and hatred, driving immigration policy in irrational ways."

Although disappointed that the court allowed part of the ban to be implemented, Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congruessional Asian Pacific American Caucus, said the real important decision will be inte court's next term. 

"The circuit courts, relying on President Trump’s own tweets, public statements during the campaign and the transition, and his conversations with his advisors, have established that the President acted in order to ban followers of the Muslim faith from entering our country," said Chu. "The decision today does not address these facts, but I am confident that when the Court reviews the merits of the challenge against the Muslim ban it will find that it violates both the spirit and the letter of our Constitution.”

The court's decision on the partial implementation won't be implemented until Thursday when demonstrations might occur at the airports as they did when the first travel ban was announced. 

"Reinstating any part of this ban could create chaos in the nation’s airports and tear families apart,” Margaret Huang, Amnesty International’s executive director, said in a statement.

"The religious intolerance and racial discrimination that the administration continues to unabashedly display in its rhetoric and policy is not only disgusting but is a direct attack on our nation’s core values,” said Johanna Puno Hester, APALA National President and Assistant Executive Director of the United Domestic Workers, AFSCME Local 3930, 

The ruling negated any thought that Justice Neil Gorsuch, might moderate his views once he took his seat on the Supreme Court. He joined the right wing cohort of justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, who thought the entire ban should be put into effect.

“With Gorsuch rounding out the Supreme Court, these rulings will have a tremendous, far-reaching impact on millions of people both nationwide and abroad,” said Alvina Yeh, executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance.  “That’s why our fight for immigrant and refugee communities continues despite whatever decision the Supreme Court rules in the fall. Our fight goes beyond holding elected officials accountable; it extends to protecting the very people in our families, friends, and communities from hate and discrimination.”