Supreme Court Partially Reinstates Trump Travel Ban

Justices agree to hear arguments in October over legality of president’s executive order

By Roy Maurer Jun 27, 2017
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Workers who have accepted job offers and students who have been accepted to U.S. universities from six countries identified by President Donald Trump's temporary travel ban can still enter the United States while the president's executive order goes into partial effect, the U.S. Supreme Court announced June 26.

The high court partially reinstated the president's executive order—which had been blocked by lower courts—imposing a 90-day ban on U.S. entry for travelers from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack any "bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States." That indicates that people from the six countries with family, business or other ties would not be barred from entry, while those seeking visas to enter the United States without those ties will likely be affected for the duration of the ban. The ban is scheduled to go into effect in 72 hours and last through late September, according to the decision. The travel ban does not apply to people who already have visas or are U.S. permanent residents.

"While this seems like a blow to those of us fighting the travel ban, it is still a win that visa holders with family and work relationships in the U.S. will still be able to travel into the U.S.," said Tahmina Watson, an immigration attorney and owner of Seattle-based Watson Immigration Law. 

Sameer Khedekar, a partner with the Pearl Law Group, an immigration law firm in San Francisco, recommended that nationals of the six countries "with bona fide ties to the U.S. take great caution before deciding to leave and re-enter the U.S., since CBP [Customs and Border Protection] will subjectively determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether an individual has bona fide ties. If travel is necessary, we strongly recommend that individuals carry extensive documentation evidencing their ties to the U.S.," he said.

"The court made clear that relationships formed for the purpose of evading inclusion in the ban do not qualify," Khedekar added. "For example, a nonprofit cannot contact individuals in one of these countries and add them to their client list for the purpose of avoiding being subject to the ban. It is not clear how the court or CBP will treat those nationals who, for example, have already applied for admission to a university but have not yet been accepted."

The White House has said that the travel ban is needed to allow time to implement stronger vetting measures for foreign visitors and immigrants and is part of a series of efforts by the Trump administration to implement what the president referred to as "extreme vetting" for the visa application process.

The State Department recently approved a new questionnaire (Form DS-5535, Supplemental Questions for Visa Applicants) requiring some visa applicants from "populations warranting increased scrutiny" to provide their travel history, including source of funding, for the last 15 years; employment and address history for the last 15 years; phone numbers and e-mail addresses for the last five years; and names and dates of birth for all siblings, children and current and former spouses. These applicants will also be asked to provide their social media identifiers and handles for the last five years.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would implement the travel ban "professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry." That statement was a nod to the chaos that erupted at airports around the country when Trump first issued the travel ban executive order in January.

Justices to Decide Legality of Travel Ban

The court indicated that it would review the lower-court rulings that found the president's executive actions to be unlawful when it convenes in October, but by that time the 90-day ban will have passed.

The court's decision could impact whether the administration could add other countries to a travel ban list or extend the ban beyond 90 days, however. Another provision of Trump's original order called for officials to study vetting procedures worldwide, with the possibility that additional countries could be added to the list for restricted travel in the future.

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