Trump's travel ban partially allowed: here's what you need to know

The block on the travel ban rolled out by Donald Trump just one week after his inauguration has been partially lifted by the Supreme Court.

Why is the ban being allowed?

The Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to go forward with a limited version of its ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries.

People visit the Supreme Court in Washington
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The justices will hear full arguments in October but in the meantime the court said Trump’s ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

A 120-day ban on refugees is also being allowed to take effect on a limited basis.

What constitutes a “bona fide” relationship?

“For individuals, a close familial relationship is required,” the court said.

For people who want to come to the United States to work or study, “the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, not for the purpose of evading” the travel ban.

When will it come into effect?

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts.

What’s the reason for the ban?

The administration has said the 90-day ban was needed on national security grounds to allow an internal review of screening procedures for visa applicants from the six countries. Opponents say the ban is unlawful, based on visitors’ Muslim religion.

Why was it blocked?

Critics described the policy as Islamohobic, and the lower courts broadly agreed.

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president as evidence.

The San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination.

That court also put a hold on separate aspects of the policy that would keep all refugees out of the United States for 120 days and cut by more than half, from 110,000 to 50,000, the cap on refugees in the current government spending year that ends on September 30.

Demonstrators march to Downing Street, as they protest against US President Donald Trump's travel ban.
(David Mirzoeff/PA)

Trump’s first executive order on travel applied to travellers from Iraq as well as the six countries, and took effect immediately, causing chaos and panic at airports over the last weekend in January as the Homeland Security Department scrambled to figure out whom the order covered and how it was to be implemented.

A federal judge blocked it eight days later, an order that was upheld by a 9th circuit panel. Rather than pursue an appeal, the administration said it would revise the policy – which was also blocked.

Is the full ban likely to go through in October?

Trump restored a 5-4 conservative majority to the Supreme Court when his nominee, Neil Gorsuch, joined in April.

Three of the court’s conservative justices – Justice Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Gorsuch – said they would have let the complete bans take effect.

Thomas said the government’s interest in preserving national security outweighs any hardship to people denied entry into the country.

What has Trump said?

The President hailed the high court’s order as a “clear victory for our national security.” He said in a statement that his “number one responsibility” is to keep the American people safe.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department looks forward to defending the travel ban when the Supreme Court hears arguments in the case in October.

What has the reaction been?

Organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) fought it then, and say they’ll do the same now.

Some immigration lawyers said the limited nature of the ban and the silence of the court’s liberals on the issue on Monday suggested that the court had not handed Trump much of a victory.

They said relatively few people would fall under the ban because people coming to study, work or visit family members in the United States already have sufficient relationships with others already in the country.

Life, FeaturesWeb editor