June is Immigrant Heritage Month. And it’s shaping up to be an action-packed one for President Trump’s revised travel and refugee ban.
At the beginning of the month, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to restore the travel ban after the federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., struck it down.
Then, early last week, the federal appeals court in San Francisco struck down the travel and refugee provisions of the ban, upholding a lower-court order blocking the ban. A few days later, when the embattled ban expired on June 14, Trump revised the start date of the ban to it and the legal challenge alive.
And finally, the Trump administration responded to the appeals court ruling from last week in a filing with the Supreme Court. The nation’s highest court is expected to decide whether to review the case at its last scheduled conference this week.
Travel and Refugee Ban
The revised travel and refugee ban emerged from the executive order Trump signed on March 6, six weeks after issuing the first order in January.
Signed on January 27, the original order, barred individuals who hold passports from the majority-Muslim countries of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen, from entering the U.S. for 90 days. It also halted the entry of refugees for 120 days and imposed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees and reduced the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in the current fiscal year, which ends in September, to 50,000 from 110,000. Moreover, the original order went into effect immediately after Trump signed it, creating chaos at airports in the U.S. and around the world until federal courts blocked it.
The March 6 executive order omitted references to religion, left Iraq off the list of countries, and set an effective date. The order bars individuals holding passports from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days starting on March 16. The order also barred all refugees from entering the U.S. for 120 days and reduced the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. in the current fiscal year to 50,000.
And last week, Trump revised his March executive order yet again. The order originally listed March 16 as the effective date of the travel and refugee ban. That meant the 90-day ban on issuing visas to citizens of the six listed countries expired on June 14. Meanwhile, the 120-day suspension of admitting refugees was set to expire in July.
In response to opponents of the ban who pointed out the approaching expiration date of the ban, Trump revised the order’s effective date in a presidential memorandum signed on June 14. The memo stated the ban would start 72 hours after a court lifts the injunctions. The change improves the chances that the Supreme Court will address the case.
District Courts Reject Revised Travel Ban
Two separate lawsuits—one filed in Hawaii by the state of Hawaii and an imam of the Muslim Association of Hawaii and the other in Maryland by the International Refugee Assistance Project and others—challenged the executive order. Both argued that the order violated the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against Muslims.
The U.S. District Court Judge in Hawaii put on hold the provisions barring individuals from the six countries and the ones affecting refugees. The U.S. District Court Judge in Maryland blocked implementation of the only provision barring individuals from the six countries. Both federal judges found the executive order discriminated against Muslims, citing Trump’s statements about excluding Muslims from the U.S. The Trump administration appealed both rulings.
Appeals Courts Reject Revised Travel Ban
Last month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., turned down the Trump administration’s request to lift the halt on the travel ban put in place by the federal judge in Maryland. It agreed with the lower court that the ban violated the Constitution.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco, turned down the administration’s request to lift the broader injunction placed on the executive order by the judge in Hawaii. In contrast to the Fourth Circuit, the Ninth Circuit blocked the executive order on statutory grounds, stating that Trump “exceeded the scope of the authority delegated to him by Congress.”
The court said halting the entry of individuals from six countries and all refugees, and reducing the cap on refugee admissions, Trump failed to “make a sufficient finding that the entry of these classes of people would be ‘detrimental to the interests of the United States.’”
However, the Ninth Circuit sided with the Trump administration by overturning the lower court ruling that barred the administration from conducting internal reviews of its immigration vetting procedures. The executive order stated that halting both travel to the U.S. from the six countries and resettlement of refugees was necessary “to temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies” and enable them to review and change vetting procedures.
Supreme Court to Review?
Earlier this month, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to review the travel ban executive order and put the travel ban into effect while litigation continues. The administration argued that the lower-court rulings undermine “the President’s constitutional and statutory power to protect” the U.S.
Following the Ninth Circuit’s decision last week, the administration repeated the argument it has made throughout the legal challenges to the travel ban. Namely, the courts should not review decisions that prohibit foreign nationals from entering the U.S. Moreover, the administration contends the president possesses “exceedingly broad discretion” over immigration matters and does not need to show that the U.S. would be harmed.
The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to lift the injunctions on the travel and refugee bans while it considers the appeals to the Fourth Circuit and Ninth Circuit decisions. The justices are expected decide whether to hear the government’s appeal before they break for the summer on June 22, the Supreme Court’s last scheduled conference date. The court usually recesses by the end of June.
The Alcorn Immigration Law team are monitoring the latest developments with the travel ban. If you or a loved one need help with a waiver or need assistance finding an immigration solution, contact us. Alcorn Immigration Law believes immigration leads to innovation. Our team can help immigrants anywhere inside or outside the U.S.