US Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban

| | Washington

In a belated judicial victory for one of President Donald Trump’s controversial executive actions to keep out travellers from six Muslim-majority nations back in January and revised twice thereafter, the US Supreme Court on Monday allowed full enforcement of the travel ban for now.

The apex court’s green light is being viewed as a significant but temporary win for the Trump administration since this policy decision is the subject of challenge in federal courts in several States. Those challenges will continue and could conceivably end up in the Supreme Court for a final pronouncement on the legality of the travel ban order. 

Nonetheless, for now, the administration can fully enforce the restrictions spelled out in its third version of the ban order that bars travellers from the six predominantly Muslim nations of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad, besides two other countries — North Korea and Venezuela. In the case of Venezuela, the ban is restricted to some groups of people.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions termed the judicial go-ahead “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people”.

The White House commented it was “not surprised” by the Supreme Court’s decision “permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism”.

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

While deciding the issue by a 7-2 margin, the Supreme Court stayed the rulings by two lower courts in October, blocking implementation of the ban order during the pendency of the legal challenges.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, criticised the ruling. “This decision ignores the very real human consequences to American citizens and their families abroad imposed by President Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0,” said the council’s National Litigation Director Lena Masri.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also voiced its disappointment with the apex court’s order. Commenting that President Trump’s “anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret”, ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project Director Omar Jadwat said: “It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims.”

However, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, in his arguments, rejected the description of “Muslim Ban” by critics, pointing out that some of the countries covered by the latest order are not majority Muslim. “These differences confirm that the Proclamation is based on national-security and foreign-affairs objectives, not religious animus,” he noted.

Asserting that the ban was necessary in order to protect national security, Francisco said, “The Constitution and acts of Congress confer on the President broad authority to prevent aliens abroad from entering this country when he deems it in the nation’s interest.”



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