Supreme Court Clears Trump Travel Ban Through Summer

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Supreme Court Clears Trump Travel Ban Through Summer

President Trump signs an executive order.

The Supreme Court will let the Trump administration enforce a 90-day ban on travelers from six mostly Muslim countries, overturning lower court orders that blocked it, and throwing the travel industry back into a fray that delayed and stranded travelers earlier this year.

Protected from the ban are people with a “bona fide” relationship “with a person or entity in the United States,” including college students, employees and those having family members living in the U.S., the court ruled.

Anyone applying for a visa who has never been to the United States or who has no family, business or other ties can be prohibited. Two federal appeals courts have blocked critical parts of the order, the second since the Trump Administration first attempted to ban travel from select Muslim countries.

Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch, dissented from part of the court’s opinion, stating that the travel ban should be reinstated in its entirety while the court considered the case.

On Monday, Thomas wrote in response to the court’s decision that “I fear that the court’s remedy will prove unworkable. Today’s compromise will burden executive officials with the task of deciding — on peril of contempt — whether individuals from the six affected nations who wish to enter the United States have a sufficient connection to a person or entity in this country.”

“The compromise also will invite a flood of litigation until this case is finally resolved on the merits, as parties and courts struggle to determine what exactly constitutes a ‘bona fide relationship.'"

The American Society of Travel Agents and the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) repeatedly have expressed concerns about the impact a travel ban can have on travel to and from the United States.

Following the Supreme Court ruling, USTA executive vice president Jonathan Grella said "As the Supreme Court considers the legal merits of the President Trump's executive orders on immigration, we continue to urge the administration to draw a brighter line between its efforts to bolster national security and its desire to continue attracting valuable international business and leisure travelers."

"We have heard senior administration members say America is 'open for business' and 'open to the millions of international visitors who wish us well,' but they should be doing as much as possible to make sure there is widespread awareness of that sentiment abroad. An overt message of welcome that accompanies tough talk aimed at terrorists and visa overstayers would do a lot to sustain and grow the immense economic benefit that comes from international travel to the U.S."

“When the Trump administration’s immigration ban was first implemented earlier this year in a cloud of chaos, we heard stories of business travelers being stopped at the U.S. border, even if they were not passport holders from the seven banned countries,” said Greeley Koch, Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) executive director.

“Seeing this maelstrom unfold, ACTE has long been of the mind that this travel ban has had a chilling effect on business travel, local economies and jobs in the hospitality industry. This economic impact is not worth the cosmetic increase in security offered by the loophole-ridden travel ban."

“Business travelers need certainty that they won’t encounter major problems at the U.S. border. There are reasons to be heartened by the Supreme Court’s decision today, in particular the provision that would allow travelers with legitimate ties to the U.S. to continue to enter the country. But the key to successful implementation—and to minimize the impact to businesses—is clearly defining the ‘significant business or professional obligations’ that will allow travelers with proper documentation to enter the U.S. and keep the economic engine running. We will be eagerly awaiting clarity until this issue can be definitively resolved.”

Last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in Richmond, Va., ruled that limiting travel from the six countries violated the First Amendment’s ban on government establishment of religion, and cited Trump’s statements during his presidential campaign.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, also blocked both the limits on travel, ruling on constitutional grounds that President Trump had exceeded his executive authority.

President Trump recently said the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts. The justices will hear arguments in the case in October when it reconvenes from summer recess.

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