- The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, contending the president has broad authority to regulate immigration.
- There have been three versions of the travel ban since Trump took office.
- The travel ban primarily targets majority-Muslim nations but the White House rejects claims it’s anti-Muslim and is motivated by national security concerns.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, contending that the president has broad authority to regulate immigration.
Critics of the travel ban feel it unfairly targets Muslim countries and argue it’s motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments, citing statements and tweets from Trump. In this sense, opponents of the ban believe it violates the Constitution’s establishment clause, which calls for neutrality on religion from the government.
But in the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts argued the travel ban was constitutional and dismissed the notion Trump’s previous comments on Islam were relevant, stating the ban’s text says “nothing about religion.”
Here’s a breakdown of what’s in the ban and how we got here now that the Supreme Court’s decision has effectively made it a permanent aspect of US immigration policy:
The travel ban primarily targets majority-Muslim countries
There have been three versions of Trump’s travel ban since he entered the White House.
Earlier versions met significant legal hurdles, particularly due to Trump’s past statements on Muslims. This includes his call for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” during the 2016 US presidential campaign.
The initial version of the ban, put forth in January 2017, included only Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This version of the ban, which issued broad restrictions on people from these countries (including legal residents of the US), saw Americans swarm airports in protest and was promptly held up in the courts.
The second version of the ban, signed by Trump in March 2017, was less extensive and dropped Iraq from the list of countries, among other revisions. But it also faced legal obstacles and was ultimately held up in the courts as well.
In June 2017, the Supreme Court allowed parts of the ban to go into effect for any foreign nationals who lacked a “bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States,” affording Trump a small victory.
The iteration upheld by the Supreme Court on Tuesday is narrower than its predecessors and prohibits travel to the US on most people from Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, North Korea, and Venezuela.
When the Trump administration issued the current version in September, Sudan and Iraq were no longer included, but North Korea and Venezuela were added to the list. Chad was also added to the list, but was ultimately removed.
In December, the Supreme Court allowed the ban to go into full effect as it reviewed the legal challenges. Tuesday’s decision makes it much harder for the ban to be overturned in the future.
Are all people from the countries on the travel ban list barred from coming to the US?
The ban doesn’t apply to green card holders (permanent residents) or dual nationals travelling with the passport of a non-designated country.
It also allows for waivers to be granted on a case-by-case basis. But the restrictions on entry to the US vary depending on the country. When it comes to Venezuela, for example, it’s primarily government officials and their immediate family members who are affected.
The ban is designed to be permanent.
The Trump administration says the travel ban is about national security, but not everyone is convinced
Trump has continuously maintained the travel ban is designed to protect Americans from potential terror attacks.
In response to the Supreme Court decision on Tuesday,Trump said, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous success, a tremendous victory for the American people, and for our Constitution.”
“We have to be tough and we have to be safe, we have to be secure,” Trump said, adding, “at a minimum we have to make sure we vet people coming into our country.”
But no deadly terror attacks have been conducted on US soil post-9/11 by any people from the countries on the travel ban list, according to research from the New America Foundation. Moreover, none of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were from any of the countries on the travel ban list.
Along these lines, critics continue to argue the ban is motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments rather than any real threats to US national security.
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