The U.S. Supreme Court on June 26, 2017, revived parts of President Trump’s executive order of a travel ban, by permitting the government to impose the 90-day ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries along with a 120-day hold on the refugee program in cases where there was no bona fide connection or strong ties between the traveler and the U.S. The Supreme Court’s ruling will be implemented within 72 hours of issuance.
In the absence of clear guidelines as to what exactly would qualify as a ‘bona fide relationship’ with the U.S., enforcement of the travel ban could potentially cause chaos and confusion around airports in the country as the term is open to broad interpretation. Theoretically, people having family members, relatives, a business or jobs in the U.S., or students admitted to American universities would not be barred from entry. The ban would essentially apply to people applying for visas or seeking to enter the U.S. who fail to show that they have any such ties.
President Trump’s initial executive order in January 2017 prohibited people from seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) from entering the U.S. for 90 days and also suspended the Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days. This order led to chaos at airports worldwide and widespread protests in the U.S. The constitutionality of the order was challenged in some state and federal courts soon after. It was determined that the travel ban would be suspended while judges decided on its constitutionality. Trump issued a revised order later in March which removed Iraq from the initial seven-country list and kept the refugee suspension to 120 days. The revised order was blocked by two federal appeals courts, and was eventually taken to the Supreme Court.
When the Supreme Court reconvenes in fall, it will decide the legality of the executive order, thereby giving the government time to implement parts of the temporary ban over the summer and introduce new vetting procedures before the case is due to be heard in October.
Zeenat Phophalia, Esq., Senior Associate