The legal battles over the so-called “Trump travel ban” continue. In the latest developments, the Supreme Court overturned a lower court order loosening the administration’s interim travel restrictions; and, a few hours later, the Court blocked another lower court ruling that would have allowed refugees with an offer of resettlement assistance to enter the U.S.
All of the high court’s rulings to date have addressed the confusing “bona fide relationship” rule that it imposed for the interim application of the travel restrictions. That standard was created, out of thin air. It was not drawn from the statute governing immigration to the United States – the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Nowhere in any of the thousands of pages that make up the INA does it say that anyone with a bona fide relationship to a person or entity in the United States must be let into America. The Court will hear full-blown arguments regarding the constitutionality of the so-called “ban” on October 10. Given the current ideological composition of the Court, and its apparent willingness to rely on nebulous interim guidelines, how it will rule is anyone’s guess.
That lack of clarity makes this an opportune time to re-examine the reasons why President Trump sought to limit travel to the U.S. by certain classes of aliens. Executive Order 13769, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States,” contained provisions that would have imposed a temporary moratorium on travel from countries presenting significant national security threats and a temporary suspension of refugee admissions. These short-duration measures were intended to give the Departments of Homeland Security and State a chance to re-examine and update their vetting procedures. As the president clearly stated:
Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States. The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.
The order also clearly stated that, “It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.”
Those all seem like pretty laudable goals, especially given that the system used to screen immigrants coming to the United States is badly broken. They’re also goals that fall clearly within the responsibilities inherent in the office of the president and the duties assigned to him by Congress.
So why are federal district courts and courts of appeal ignoring 150 years of precedent supporting the president’s actions? Because the federal courts are developing an alarming tendency to prioritize the imaginary “rights” of criminal aliens and foreign terrorists over the public safety and national security concerns of the American people. Let’s hope that the Supreme Court reverses that trend on October 10.