Travel ban: SCOTUS sides with Trump again…for now


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday put a temporary hold on a San Francisco Appeals Court ruling that would have allowed more than 20,000 refugees with ‘bona fide’ U.S. connections to enter the United States in spite of President Trump’s travel ban.

Justice Kennedy’s ruling means that all refugees and citizens from six mostly-Muslim countries will be banned from traveling to the United States until the Supreme Court officially reviews the travel restrictions on October 10. However, the ban will not apply to residents from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen if they can prove a “bona fide” relationship with someone already residing on U.S. soil.

Last week, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco upheld a Hawaii judge’s ruling to allow refugees to come to the United States as long as they had obtained a formal offer from a resettlement agency. Had the Department of Justice not asked the higher court to put a temporary hold on the lower court’s ruling, 24,000 refugees would have been exempted from the ban from today.

In its request to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department argued that the appeals court’s ruling would have endangered the safety and security of all Americans. Indeed, the travel ban was introduced to give the Trump administration sufficient time to put in place beefed-up vetting procedures to identify potential terrorists attempting to reach U.S. soil.

“The Ninth Circuit’s refugee-assurance ruling would upend the status quo and do far greater harm to the national interest,” the Justice Department wrote in a filing.

Justice Kennedy gave opponents of the ban until midday on Tuesday, September 12 to present their arguments against the travel restrictions.

The Department of Justice, however, did not challenge the San Francisco appeals court’s decision to add grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins of legal U.S. residents to the list of close family relatives who should not be covered by the ban.

In March, President Trump issued an executive order that banned travelers from Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The same executive action also imposed a 120-day ban on refugee entry. Both bans were blocked by lower courts but the Supreme Court in June temporarily allowed part of the ban to come into force and ruled that only individuals without a ‘bona fide’ connection to persons or entities in the United States would be covered by the travel ban.