President Donald Trump’s effort to ban immigrants from several Muslim-majority countries heads to the Supreme Court today, which will decide if his argument asserting national security interests was tainted by religious bias.
The case, known as Trump v. Hawaii, will address the president’s broad powers to set immigration policy, which the administration says permit Trump’s travel ban, one of his hallmark policies since taking office in January 2017. Legal experts say the court is usually loathe to rule on executive powers.
But the travel ban’s focus on Muslim countries has left Trump the target of allegations that it violates constitutional religious protections, which led lower courts, including the federal court in Hawaii, to rule it illegal.
This case has everything: weighty constitutional issues, complex statutory questions, and a fight over whether there are any real limits on a president’s power to control immigration,” said Cornell University law professor Stephen Yale-Loehr.
“Whichever way the court rules, the decision will have profound implications for Americans, immigrants, and the president.”One of Trump’s first acts upon entering office in January 2017 was to announce a 90 day ban on travelers from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
The sudden move caused chaos at airports, with people unable to enter despite holding visas, and some families sent back to their homelands. Tens of thousands of legal visas were revoked.
The order was made on national security grounds — purportedly to protect the country from terror attacks — and officials said the time limit would allow for a review and improvement of immigration vetting in those countries. But critics alleged in court, successfully, that it essentially targeted Muslims.
The ban was reissued twice, each time with adjustments aiming to get around such rulings. The So-called Version 3.0 in September was open-ended and changed the countries.
It included Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Syria and added Chad, another predominantly Muslim country. Nevertheless, Trump’s case could be bolstered by the lifting of the ban on travelers from Chad on April 10. —AFP