In a recent article on the travel ban, I mistakenly wrote that the administration had little likelihood of prevailing in court. Earlier this week, in a stunning ruling, the Supreme Court of the United States (Scotus) allowed a partial version of the travel ban to proceed. This was stunning on several fronts.
First, the administration had requested a temporary ban all the way back in February, arguing that they needed the time to review the visa application process to review security measures for visitors to the U.S.
The 90 days they requested have already come and gone. This in and of itself renders the administration’s request null, void and moot. It would seem that the administration should already have completed the review that they claimed they wanted to implement.
Further, the urgent security risk that they claimed has been proven non-existent because the injunctions against the ban that allowed travel to continue have not led to increased insecurity.
Second, by allowing even this partial version of the ban to proceed, it grants the administration the full 90 day ban for non-refugees and 120 days for refugees that it had requested, with no possibility of challenges while the Supreme Court is in recess for the summer.
Third, Scotus offered a vague directive as pointed out by the dissent authored by Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch who argued that the Supreme Court should have gone further in lifting the injunctions. In their dissent, the justices argued that the partial ban would lead to confusion and would likely burden the courts with new lawsuits against even the partial ban.
My previous article pointed out that this White House Correspondent would be caught in the crosshairs if the full travel ban were implemented. That is because as a person who obtained my residency via my spouse who obtained a Greencard through asylum, my case falls under the refugee category.
This ruling by the Supreme Court serves to remind people like me that we are not out of the woods yet. There is absolutely no telling which way the Supreme Court will finally rule in the end upon their return. If they rule in favor of the administration, will it mean that the administration will then put the full ban in place at that point giving it two wins?
The President already tweeted to celebrate the victory which opponents of the ban have argued is not a real victory.
The real victory for Trump however will be in the effects of this partial and extremely confusing ban that goes into effect Thursday night t 8:30PM EST. This limited version of the travel ban will serve to deter people from even bothering to apply for visas in the first place.
Muslims, Hispanics, Africans and other minorities understand the subtext of Trump’s hostility. Many are aware that the hostility is aimed at Muslims and minorities regardless if they are from the seven named countries or not. Further, it is unclear whether people overseas are even aware that the travel ban only affects 7 specific countries. It is quite likely that Muslims everywhere simply understand the travel ban to be Trump’s originally promised ban on all Muslims.
The Supreme Court ruled that only travelers with significant connections to the United States would be allowed to apply for visas and travel if granted those visas. This granted leeway to the administration to define what those connections were. The administration did so in a diplomatic cable issued Wednesday night to embassies.
The visa application process is already lengthy and fraught for most people who are not from Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan – meaning pretty much most people who are non-white. The nuances of this new directive will likely be lost on both would be applicants as well as immigration officials. Additionally, there is absolutely no way to track visa refusals to identify whether they were warranted. Visa applicants have absolutely no rights and there is absolutely no ability to file lawsuits against visa refusals.
The directives issued by the Supreme Court will mean little to Black and Brown people the world over, who are already aware that the visa application process is complicated at best and highly prohibitive. Further directives by the administration only serve to make it clear that travel and immigration to the United States will become much harder. A newly issued Greencard application form which claims to be simplified now has 18 pages whereas the previous one had only five!
For this White House Correspondent, even travel with the President on an international trip will have to be set aside for now.