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Categorised in: Travel News
The Trump administration argues that this one is different, because it was imposed only after the administration surveyed more than 200 countries for their effectiveness in providing information about the backgrounds of visa applicants and their success in fighting terrorism at home.
A central question in the case is how much power the president has to block the entry of millions of foreign nationals.
The Justice Department argues that the Constitution and federal laws give the president “broad authority to suspend or restrict the entry of aliens outside the United States when he deems it in the nation’s interest.” While immigration law doesn’t require the president to spell out detailed findings before he invokes the authority, the government says, the September proclamation “is more detailed as a matter of both process and substance than any prior order” limiting travel.
Other presidents have used this power to ban travel by large classes of people, says Solicitor General Noel Francisco, such as President Ronald Reagan, who suspended entry by all Cuban nationals in retaliation for Cuba’s suspension of an immigration agreement.
But the challengers say the law gives the president power to ban only foreign nationals who share some characteristic making them harmful to admit to the U.S. In this case, says Neal Katyal, representing Hawaii, “it bans the immigration of a sprawling group of 150 million who share nothing in common but nationality.”
What’s more, he says, the president can only suspend admission — that is, ban issuing visas — temporarily. The current ban, by contrast, is more or less permanent.
The challengers also say the travel ban is unconstitutional because it is based on religious animus, citing frequent promises from Donald Trump, as a candidate and as president, to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.
“Any reasonable observer who heard the president’s campaign promises,” Katyal says, “would see this as the fulfillment of the president’s promise to prohibit Muslim immigration to the United States.”
But the government says the proclamation’s history and text are neutral with regard to religion. It was the result, the Justice Department says, of foreign policy and security decisions by several government agencies.
The first executive order on travel, announced Feb. 1, 2017, caused chaos at major airports when border officials refused to admit travelers who were in flight when the rules went into effect. It was quickly blocked by the courts. Enforcement of a revised travel ban, issued about a month later, was also stopped by lower court judges. The Supreme Court allowed it to be enforced except for visa applicants with family or other close U.S. connections, but it expired before it was to be the subject of a full blown Supreme Court review.
After the justices hear the case on the morning of April 25, a transcript and an audio recording of the courtroom argument will be posted by 2 p.m. ET on the court’s website, www.supremecourt.gov.