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US Supreme Court Upholds Latest Travel Ban

The US Supreme Court issued a decision today upholding the third version of the travel ban established by the Trump administration. This ban, issued via Presidential Proclamation, imposes travel restrictions on citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia. The original Proclamation included Chad, but this country was later removed as Chad improved compliance with US vetting procedures.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Court held that the President is granted “broad discretion to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States,” and that President Trump “lawfully exercised that discretion based on his findings – following a worldwide, multiagency review – that entry of the covered aliens would be detrimental to the national interest.” Finding that the proclamation is neutral with regard to religion and advances a national security interest, the Court was not persuaded by the plaintiffs’ arguments that the ban was motivated by anti-Muslim sentiment.

The version of the ban at issue is a Presidential Proclamation signed by President Trump on September 24, 2017, which had been the subject of preliminary injunctions imposed by the Ninth and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeals. In December 2017, the US Supreme Court stayed these preliminary injunctions, allowing the ban to take effect until the Court could rule on the merits. That ruling has now been issued, with the Court finding the travel restrictions to be within President Trump’s authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Supporting its finding that the Proclamation advances a legitimate government interest, the Court cited the prior removal of three previously included Muslim-majority countries (Iraq, Sudan and Chad), the inclusion of exceptions for certain categories of foreign nationals, and the creation of a waiver program.

The travel ban currently in effect does the following:

  • Imposes a varying range of entry restrictions for citizens of Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Somalia.
  • Exempts lawful permanent residents (green card holders).
  • Provides case-by-case waivers under certain circumstances.
  • Mandates that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assess the restrictions on a continuing basis and whether the restrictions should be modified or continued. DHS must report to the President every 180 days.

Additional details on the scope of the ban, exempted groups and available waivers are covered in detail in our Alert covering the original Presidential Proclamation.

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Maryanne Kline

Practice Group Associate

Maryanne Kline is a Practice Group Associate at Mintz. Her practice focuses on US federal immigration law, with a concentration on business-based immigration issues. Maryanne counsels clients on issues related to hiring foreign nationals, executives, managers, and other workers.