By Hefin Rees Edwards
5th of December 2017, the US Supreme Court allowed Donald’s Trump proposed travel ban to come into effect, whilst legal challenges to it are still ongoing. This is an important moment, as it is the first time the court has allowed the ban to precede to the appeal courts after several failed attempts. This third edition of the travel ban places restriction on citizens from eight countries: Chad, Libya, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. The ruling by the Supreme Court means it can be enforced while legal challenges to the ban can make their way through the legal system.
The Trump administration has argued the ban is necessary to maintain national security, whilst critics have said that it is Trump’s attempt to enforce a ‘Muslim ban,’ which he promised on the 2016 campaign trail. Opponents have also pointed to the fact that just a week before Trump had retweeted anti-muslim videos from the far-right group ‘Britain First’, thus undermining his argument that the ban is not based on religious beliefs. Six out of the eight countries being targeted by the ban are majority Muslim and citizens of these nations will now face higher levels of screening before being able to enter the USA, be more likely to be denied visas, and also be barred from working and studying in the country.
This was the third attempt to impose a travel ban by the Trump administration after the previous two had been struck down. So what has changed? The first two issues of the ban, filed earlier in the year, were seen as temporary measures, whilst the more recent proclamation took a more time to deliberate and was the product of extensive study which satisfied the court, according to the Supreme Court solicitor general Noel J. Francisco. By allowing the ban to be implemented, the court has not ruled it to be constitutional, rather they did not feel that an emergency injunction against the ban was necessary.
However, the decision to allow the ban to be implemented bodes well for the future, with the court more likely to side with Trump when the legality of the ban is challenged. The travel ban is now being debated in the smaller appeal courts of the 9th and 4th US circuit court of appeals. Omar Jadwat from the American Civil Liberties Union is one of those currently battling against the ban in the appeal courts, released a statement after the Supreme Court’s decision saying: “We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones.”
Trump’s travel ban is effectively the first major curb to US immigration since the passing of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. This ended the quota system based upon nationality and drastically changed the makeup the immigration to the USA, with many more Mexicans, Koreans, Indians and other nationalities being allowed to enter the country by the end of the 20th century.
This is a substantial victory for President Trump, after enduring a tough legislative year with the high profile failure of his healthcare plan in Congress. The implementation of the travel ban, coupled with the recent success of Republican tax legislation in the Senate and his recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, mean that Trump will go into the new year having kept to several key campaign promises and able to show some legislative success from his first full year in office.
Photograph: Ted Eytan via Flickr