How far is the Trump administration willing to fight for its travel ban? Last week, the third iteration of the travel ban suspending travel from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen was struck down by a federal court judge in Hawaii; only a day shy of its enforcement. “The Department of Justice is resolutely focused on dealing with the terrorism threat we face; they are real” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And resolute they appear to be.
The Trump administration’s travel ban has been defeated by the courts time and again. The White House is not deterred. Trump can hang his hat, for now, on the option of moving the fight up to the Supreme Court.Walid Jawad
The second travel ban replaced the first Executive Order with some notable changes including dropping Iraq from the list of banned countries, dropping the Syrian suspension of refugees, dropping the prioritization of refugees based on religious minority status. The order, on the other hand, renewed the suspension of the refugee program for 120 days. The courts struck down this version as well based on the same legal grounds as the first order. In response, the administration resorted to legal options to block the injunction. On June 26, 2017, the Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments to vacate the injunctions in October.
As the Trump administration was worried of an unfavorable outcome by the Supreme Court it made adjustments to the updated/second Executive Order by issuing a Proclamation. This update altered the second ban in a few ways; one, the composition of the countries it listed dropping Sudan while adding Chad, Venezuela and North Korea. This change was widely viewed as a way to diffuse the court’s argument that the ban is a Muslim ban. In response to the 24 September Proclamation the Supreme Court canceled its scheduled hearing taking no action on any of provisions including the President’s refugee ban.
Throughout the different iterations of the travel ban, the provision dealing with refugee stayed intact. The Executive Order suspended acceptance and relocation of refugees for 120 days, which expired days ago on October 24. The White House allowed the sunset provision to take its course without any new announcement. Yet, the administration was busy putting together new vetting procedures. In addition to more biographical data collected, social media posts will be mined to cross reference the stories applicant cite when submitting their request. The new, more stringent standard of vetting, will expand to women and children. The current vetting process can take upward of two years to conclude. There is no clear sense if “improved” vetting will cause a backlog and longer wait periods.