Three executive orders, including two that were adjusted. Nine injunctions. Two United States Supreme Court cases. Those are the numbers behind the litigation of President Donald Trump’s travel bans.
For review, the first travel ban was signed on January 27, 2017, to include seven Muslim-majority nations (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen). On February 1, the order was tweaked to exempt legal permanent residents of the United States. On March 6, President Trump unveiled a brand new travel ban barring all entry from the same countries, except for the elimination of Iraq, for 90 days.
The first Supreme Court case came on June 26, ruling that the travel ban could continue and that visitors must have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the US.” On July 13, a federal judge in Hawaii ruled that a “bona fide relationship” includes grandparents and other relatives. After the original ban was set to expire, the president signed a new ban including citizens from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and some government officials from Venezuela. Chad was later removed from the list. Once again, a Hawaii judge blocked the ban leading to Trump v. Hawaii, the case decided last week.
The Court decided in a 5-4 decision to uphold the latest version of the travel ban.
The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts stating, “The sole prerequisite set forth in [federal law] is that the President finds that the entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The President has undoubtedly fulfilled that requirement here.”
When federal law is taken into consideration, this is obviously correct. Section 1182(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) gives the President “broad discretion” to suspend the entry of non-citizens into the United States. Moreover, Section 1152(a)(1)(A) bars discrimination based on nationality in the issuance of visas. This section does not allow room for discrimination, but, like other presidents have done before Trump, allows the President to block the entry of nationals of some countries.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor (joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) dissented, claiming that “…a reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”
This claim is patently false. While I will concede candidate Trump’s comment from 2015, “…Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States…,” words do not equal law. The law on the document signed by the president shows no “anti-Muslim bias.”
Within the travel ban are three countries in the top ten of Muslim population. Iran is 6th (99.4%), Yemen is 9th (99%) and Somalia is 10th (98.9%). Libya (96.6%) and Syria (82.9%) are also targeted but aren’t even within the top 20. The narrative that the travel ban is motivated by anti-Muslim bias isn’t aided by the fact that North Korea’s Muslim population is 0.1%.
According to the State Department website, North Korea, Iran and Syria are all state sponsors of terrorism under section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act.
In 2016, Al Qaeda and the ISIS branch in Yemen carried out five attacks in Yemen killing at least 208 people total. In October of last year 500 were killed in a truck bomb attack carried out by the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. Also in 2016, ISIS claimed the lives of at least 99 in Libya. It is also true that ISIS is smuggling terrorists among Syrian refugees.
I challenge anyone who agrees with J. Sotomayor that the ban was “motivated by anti-Muslim bias” to look at the statistics. Look less at what comes out of the loose lips of the President, and focus on what the order says, what laws justify the order, and then form an opinion.
Leftist judges have egregiously inflated what they feel is wrong with the legality of the circumstances. This is not how law works, nor is it the Supreme Court’s job to be moral arbiters.
Reagan Meredith is a sophomore political science major from Monroe, Louisiana.