Trump Admin Delays Travel Ban Ahead of Supreme Court Fight

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President Donald Trump has delayed the implementation of his ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries until 72 hours after court injunctions are lifted, Politico reports. The move is to avoid the possibility of major parts of the order expiring before the Supreme Court could hear the Trump administration’s appeal. 

The Trump administration took the action “in light of questions in litigation about the effective date of the enjoined provisions and in the interest of clarity,” according to a memorandum obtained by ABC News, arguing that the “clarification forecloses respondents’ mootness argument.”

According to Reuters, challengers to the ban had said in court papers that it should have expired on Wednesday, 90 days after the executive order was due to take effect on March 16. 

The Trump administration has asked the Supreme Court to stay two injunctions on the executive order by federal appeals courts in Hawaii and Maryland, as well as to hear the case. If the Supreme Court grants the stay, the ban would immediately go into effect.

The move follows a ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that found that the executive order appeared to violate two Congressional immigration 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. An earlier, separate decision by an appeals court in Virginia had found that the order’s primary purpose was religious. The Trump administration has argued that the ban is necessary to protect the United States from terrorism. 

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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