U.S. travel ban criteria could trigger fresh lawsuits

Supreme Court Building

The ban has faced repeated legal challenges, resulting in multiple stays from lower courts that completely blocked its implementation.

This week the Supreme Court unblocked most aspects of President Trump's executive order limiting entry into the United States, signaling that the restrictions are likely to be upheld. The Supreme Court will hear the full arguments.

A woman pushes a stroller near a sign for worldwide arrivals at the Seattle-Tacoma global Airport, Monday, June 26, 2017, in Seattle.

A No. The justices agreed with the appeals courts that certain people should be allowed to come to the U.S., as long as they have what the court called "a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States".

This week brought forth a slight victory for the Trump administration as the U.S. Supreme Court said that parts of the controversial travel ban can take effect. EO-1 contained a mechanism to extend this travel ban indefinitely, as well as to add additional countries to the list.

This is mostly untrue.

In Monday's ruling, the high court gave a few examples of connections that qualify.

The court's decision could lead to months of administrative and legal wrangling as consular officials try to determine which individuals are allowed to seek entry to the United States and which are barred by the opinion.

It affects travellers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days unless they can demonstrate personal links to the United States, including relatives or offers to attend American universities.

Since the USA began its system of vetting refugees in 1980, not a single person accepted as a refugee has been involved in a successful deadly attack on the United States.

Small parts of the ban may be able to go into effect until the Supreme Court decides the legality of the travel ban. People who already have visas should not be blocked from USA airports.

As for refugees, the court held that a person seeking refuge in the USA can claim "concrete hardship" - but in the end, if they "lack any such connection to the United States ... the balance tips in favor of the government's compelling need to provide for the Nation's security".

The practical impact of this clause remains to be seen, since it explicitly references national security as the "compelling need" by which a ban could go into effect.

The initial order created chaos and confusion as the Trump administration scrambled to make changes amid backlash as legal US residents, refugees and holders of valid visas were denied boarding at foreign airports or detained and sent back overseas after landing in the United States. If you don't have a "bona fide relationship", to the US, you're barred.

The hard job of judging foreigners' claimed connections could land back in the lower courts in Maryland and Hawaii that had originally blocked Trump's travel ban, said Stephen Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law.

On the other hand, the justices said, relationships created for the purposes of evading the travel ban will not be considered valid.

But previous rulings had argued that the president overstepped his authority and that his executive order was discriminatory.

It is of note that Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative with a tendency to vote with liberals on social issues, did not join three of his conservative colleagues in their dissents on the instructions. Could that be why they're not included in the travel ban? The ban will have run its course by then, raising a question of whether the justices will even issue a decision in the case or dismiss it because it has been overtaken by events.

Trump ordered the refugee ban and a travel ban affecting the six countries, plus Iraq, shortly after taking office in January.

The MESA Task Force on Civil and Human Rights will closely follow the interpretation and enforcement of the Supreme Court's decision of June 26th, 2017 partially reinstating Executive Order 13780 and provide updated information and guidance as they become available.

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