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What’s going on with President Trump’s Travel Ban?

How did we get here?

On January 27, 2017 President Trump issued his first travel ban excluding people from seven Muslim-majority countries via executive order which was blocked by several courts around the United States. The administration decided to rescind the first ban and issue a second travel ban on March 6, 2017 which they hoped would be more likely to be upheld by the courts. The second travel ban, among other things, removed Iraq from the list of countries, removed mention of religious minorities, and did not apply to green card holders. Federal judges in Hawai’i and in Maryland temporarily blocked the ban by issuing preliminary injunctions, which stop the administration from taking actions while the cases are pending. The Fourth Circuit and the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals both agreed with the injunctions but for different reasons. The Fourth Circuit based their decision on the First Amendment argument that the ban was motivated by animus against Muslims. The Ninth Circuit based their decision on a statute (a law passed by Congress). The Ninth Circuit said that the order did not include enough justification under the law to show that the ban is in the national interest. The administration appealed both the decisions to the US Supreme Court.
 

What happened June 26?

On June 26, the US Supreme Court issued an order on Trump’s travel ban. The order did two main things. First, it granted certiorari, meaning that the US Supreme Court will hear the appeals from the Fourth and Ninth Circuit decisions that went against the travel ban. Those cases are consolidated into one case and will have oral arguments in the fall. The second thing it did was modify the preliminary injunctions from the lower courts. When the courts grant an injunction, they look at the likelihood of success, the possible harm to both sides, and the public interest. The Supreme Court determined that for people without close ties to someone in the US, these factors weigh in the administration’s favor because no one in the US has an obvious hardship. They lifted the injunction for people without ties to the US, but kept it in place for people with ties to the US such as close family or jobs.
 

What happens next?

On Thursday, June 29, the travel ban will go in effect for those people from the six countries without “a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States”. For people with close family members or a genuine relationship with an institution in the United States, the ban is under an injunction and cannot go into effect. Their visas and entry to the US should continue to be processed like before. This fall the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case and make a final decision. There are a lot of different issues so it is very difficult to know what kind of a decision they will issue. They could end up throwing out the whole case because the order said the ban was only supposed to last 90 days, or until June 14th. In the meantime, there will be a lot of confusion regarding exactly what is a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship” and when and how that determination is made. Anyone who is worried about someone trying to come to the US from one of the affected countries (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen) should talk to a lawyer. 

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