Ninth Circuit Rules Travel Ban Violates Immigration Law

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In a 3-0 ruling, a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against reinstating Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, SF Gate reports. The court found that the order appeared to violate two Congressional laws: one which requires legal justification for the exclusion of a “class” of foreigners, and the other banning discrimination based on national origin in immigration decisions. 

The ruling follows a May 24 decision by an appeals court in Virginia that found that the order’s primary purpose was religious. After that ruling, the Trump administration had asked the Supreme Court to hear the case. 

According to NBC News, the Ninth Circuit also cited Trump’s tweets declaring “we need a TRAVEL BAN for certain DANGEROUS countries,” as well as a comment by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that the President’s tweets are “considered official statements.”

The Trump administration has argued that the ban is necessary to protect the United States from terrorism. 

According to an analysis in the Washington Post, the latest ruling is different in that it did not involve President Trump’s previous comments on the campaign trail. Instead, the courts found that the ban lacked a sufficient national security or other justification, making the policy a violation of immigration law. The latest ruling did not offer an opinion on whether or not the ban was constitutional. 

What’s next? The Justice Department has asked the Supreme Court to expedite the case. That would allow the court to hear it at the start of its next term in October – meaning any decision would not take place until after the temporary, 90-day ban has elapsed.

The policy has caused some travel industry organizations, particularly the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), to warn that it could harm inbound travel to the United States. The GBTA recently forecast a $1.3 billion loss in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. this year due to the ban, as well as other policies like the proposed expanded laptop ban and other political factors like Brexit.

The revised executive order bans travel from six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – dropping Iraq, which was part of the original ban. The new order also suspends the United States’ refugee program for 120 days, and lowers the cap on refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 per year.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has said that it is waiting to see how the policy will impact U.S. travel agents. In a March press call ASTA SVP Government and Industry Affairs Eben Peck said, “I think we’re going to look at letting the dust from both bans settle a bit. Maybe a few months out we can get a read on this — is this having a real impact or are people just having an emotional reaction?”

ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said that the organization would continue to “monitor the situation closely with an eye toward any impact on our members’ businesses, and will do everything possible to ensure member are kept up to date, able to serve their clients and prepare them for any disruptions that might occur.”

Other changes: travelers from the affected countries who are legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals who use a passport from another country and those who have been granted asylum or refugee status are exempt from the new order. Additionally, current visa holders will be able to get into the country, although those whose visas expire will have to reapply.

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