In a blow to advocates for migrant justice, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel restrictions on people from seven countries on June 26. In the ruling, authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court sided with the Trump administration against a challenge from the state of Hawaii, saying that the travel restrictions do not amount to a “Muslim ban” despite the rhetoric used by Trump during his campaign and on Twitter in relation to the policy.
In addition, in the 5-4 decision split on apparent political and judicial lines, the court said that the President has a significant amount of authority on immigration law issues. The court dismissed evidence of Trump’s comments about Muslims and “terror” on Twitter, including the promulgation of dubious videos from right-wing websites. Instead, the court said that the text of the policy did not mention religion and that the countries listed contain only 8 percent of the world’s Muslim population. The countries subject to the travel restrictions are Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. The ban that was upheld was the administration’s third attempt at creating the policy after two prior versions were struck down in court challenges.
Immigration advocates called on Congress to take action and pass a law overturning the ban. The ruling fell on expected lines where the five justices appointed by Republican presidents voted in favor of the ban and the four appointed by Democrats against it. Scholars noted that the court tends to defer to the executive branch on immigration, classifying the issue as one of foreign relations.
Many people are deeply concerned about the effects of the ban, including people who have families in the affected countries. When people are dealing with navigating the complexities of U.S. immigration law, an immigration lawyer may be able to help them challenge biased or unjust exclusions and work to protect their rights.