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Advocates Respond to SCOTUS Decision on Trump’s Muslim Ban

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Today, the US Supreme Court agreed to review two major legal challenges to Trump’s Muslim ban, Trump v. International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Trump v. Hawaii. The cases will be consolidated for oral argument and heard during the October 2017 term. In addition, the Court upheld one part of the ban, while allowing another provision of it to go into effect immediately. The Court stated,

An American individual or entity that has a bona fide relationship with a particular person seeking to enter the country as a refugee can legitimately claim concrete hardship if that person is excluded. As to these individuals and entities, we do not disturb the injunction. But when it comes to refugees who lack any such connection to the United States, for the reasons we have set out, the balance tips in favor of the Government’s compelling need to provide for the Nation’s security.

As immigration attorney David Leopold tweeted, this language in today’s ruling is likely to lead to confusion, as it is unclear how a “bona fide relationship” might be defined. Ominously, it’s the Trump Administration which will have the power to test that definition, and it’s not stated who in the Administration would even be responsible for that determination:

Press statements from legal, immigrant, and advocacy organizations today echoed that theme, highlighting how dangerous it is that the Supreme Court decided to lift any part of Trump’s travel ban at all, how banning Muslims and other minorities should not be tolerated, and how advocates will continue the fight in this fall’s SCOTUS cases and elsewhere.

From the National Immigration Law Center:

Lifting of any part the nationwide injunction on the ban contradicts multiple major court rulings from across the country, which have consistently blocked it, finding it both unconstitutional and in violation of antidiscrimination provisions in federal law. Both the Ninth and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeal recently ordered that the great majority of the ban remain blocked.

This is the first time that new portions of the ban will be in effect since the 30-hour period after Trump signed his first Muslim-ban executive order on January 28

Allowing the Muslim ban to proceed raises immediate constitutional concerns for individuals who may have legally issued visas and who plan to travel to the United States, including to reunite with family or to work. During the worst recorded refugee crisis in world history, allowing any narrow portion of the ban to take effect could put thousands of refugees’ lives in further jeopardy. As of this week, approximately 50,506 refugees are approved for travel and resettlement in the U.S…

Karen Tumlin, legal director of the National Immigration Law Center, said as part of the statement, “Americans across the country believe the Muslim ban is reprehensible at its core, discriminatory in its intent, and at total odds with who we are as a nation. Since the High Court is the ultimate arbiter of justice in the U.S., we believe it ultimately will agree with us.”

Annaluisa Padilla, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association:

We are encouraged that the Supreme Court will take up the case in October because the Muslim and refugee bans were based on discrimination, not national security threats, which undermines our Constitution. But we are concerned that allowing the government to block entry for certain travelers from these six countries will once again cause confusion at airports and other ports of entry. Based on our experiences from earlier this year, I fully expect that we will see people with valid travel documents detained for hours and questioned as to whether they have certain relationships to people or institutions in the U.S. Visitors from the six countries and refugees who don’t have such connections will be blocked. Not only will our economy feel the effects, our reputation in the world will suffer.

Mark Hetfield, HIAS president and CEO:

The Supreme Court order today is mixed news for human rights, for refugees, and for those noncitizens whom President Trump is trying to ban from the United States based solely on their place of birth. HIAS welcomes the ruling as an affirmation that the president does not have unfettered, unchecked authority to bar refugees from the U.S. without evidence to justify such action, and that people with ties to the U.S. can continue to enter. We are very disappointed, however, that others will continue to be arbitrarily excluded and that the executive order has been resurrected to once again cause irreparable damage to refugees, immigrants, and America’s reputation as a welcoming country.

We are pleased that those with family and other ties to the United States will not be subject to the arbitrary exclusion of the Executive Order. We are very disappointed, however, that others will be arbitrarily excluded. Certainly in the case of refugees, this order will have a tragic toll on those who have fled for their lives and played by our rules to find refuge in the United States.

The Administration appealed to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the orders upheld by the Ninth and Fourth Circuits would cause ‘irreparable damage’ to the United States. We feel, however, that, with this Supreme Court ruling, these shameful executive orders will once again allow the Administration to cause ‘irreparable damage’ to America’s standing in the world as a beacon of welcome and human rights, and to the United States’ tradition of welcoming refugees and immigrants in a way that we have not seen in over fifty years. Most tragically, it will cause irreparable damage without justification to thousands of refugees and immigrants themselves.

Becca Heller, director of the International Refugee Assistance Project:

We hope that the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold the ruling of judges across the country and declare the travel ban unconstitutional and discriminatory in nature. When the first order went into effect, tens of thousands of Americans showed the world that this is not who we are and not what we want. We will never give up defending the rights of those who are affected by this discriminatory executive order.

Beth Baron, president of the Middle East Studies Association:

MESA stands alongside fellow plaintiffs in our fight against Muslim Ban 2.0. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling upholds the fundamental principle that protects all of us from government condemnation of our religious beliefs. We will keep fighting for the rights of Muslim Americans and immigrants across the country, and for the Constitution that protects us all.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project:

President Trump’s Muslim ban violates the fundamental constitutional principle that government cannot favor or disfavor any one religion. Courts have repeatedly blocked this indefensible and discriminatory ban. The Supreme Court now has a chance to permanently strike it down.

Johnathan Smith, legal director of Muslim Advocates:

We are deeply troubled by the court’s decision to allow portions of the Muslim ban to move forward.  The court’s action is likely to lead to massive confusion at airports around the world, and we are concerned that there will be large-scale violations of people’s rights similar to what happened the first time the ban was implemented. The court’s decision sends the wrong message to the Muslim community, the nation, and the world…This administration has shown a clear and consistent commitment to isolating and stigmatizing the Muslim community.  As such, Muslim Advocates remains dutifully committed to doing all we can to protect the rights of all to live free from unlawful discrimination and harassment.

Church World Services:

The United States is committed to resettling the world’s most vulnerable refugees. The Supreme Court’s decision flies in the face of this commitment by restricting entry to refugees without certain connections to the United States. Some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees have no ties to the United States—including families with children fleeing war, violence and persecution. To make a U.S. connection a prerequisite for refugee admissions in our country is to jeopardize lives and deny safety to millions.

Enabling any variation of President Trump’s discriminatory refugee and Muslim ban to go into effect—even temporarily—is an imprudent, devastating blow to our fundamental values of justice and humanity. We will continue to use all measures at our disposal to fully rescind this un-American ban and urge our elected officials to exercise political courage in the face of this legal and humanitarian setback.

Together, our spirit will never yield to such exclusionary policies.

Make the Road New York Co-Executive Director Javier H. Valdés:

President Trump remains fixated on discriminating against and vilifying Muslims and refugees and betraying core American values of inclusiveness and fair treatment. Given that all the federal courts that have heard these cases have ruled against these bans, we strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision today to take up this case and allow portions of this discriminatory policy to move forward. That said, we will continue to stand up against the Trump administration’s blatant attempts to discriminate against Muslims and refugees, and our members stand ready to act in solidarity—at the airports, at the courthouses, and in the streets. We remain confident that our side will again prevail, as we have done in courts around the country, when the case is heard by the Supreme Court.

Angelica Salas, executive director the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA):

We vigorously disagree with the court’s decision allowing even a temporary, limited portion of an unconstitutional, cruel, and discriminatory travel policy to go into effect. For thousands of immigrants and refugees seeking solace in the U.S. a delay of just 24 hours can mean the difference between life and death.

Today’s decision by the Supreme Court sends a signal to Muslims and refugees fleeing harsh and violent conditions in their home countries that their plight and suffering matters very little. The ruling is a sad indication the U.S. has not learned from history or from its past mistakes.

Tom Jawetz, vice president for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress:

We are greatly disappointed that the Supreme Court chose to allow a part of this malicious Muslim and refugee ban to go into effect. No amount of polish can cover up the multiple, hate-filled statements that President Donald Trump and members of his administration have made as to the exclusionary and discriminatory underpinnings of the executive order. The decision from the Supreme Court is a narrow one, allowing anyone with a tie to a person or entity in the United States to still be allowed to enter—which means that families, students, and refugees fleeing unspeakable horror—will not be kept out of the United States. What’s worse, Trump’s nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, voted with Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito to allow the entire ban to go into effect. We will hold this administration accountable to make sure that the administration does in fact heed the Supreme Court’s order and allow affected individuals to continue to enter the country. We also call on the Supreme Court to listen to the lower courts’ reasoning and strike down the ban when it hears the case in the fall.

Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum:

A travel ban aimed at people from Muslim-majority countries does not align with our shared values as Americans, nor is it an effective way to ensure our national security. Religion-based discrimination is not what our nation stands for.

We need solutions that uphold America’s longstanding tradition of welcoming refugees fleeing violence and persecution, leading with compassion instead of fear.

Kica Matos, spokesperson for the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM):

The Supreme Court’s decision to allow a partial stay of Trump’s cruel Muslim ban is callous and confusing for the families whose lives now hang in the balance while the court hears the case and issues a final decision. Allowing parts of Trump’s bigoted Muslim ban to go into effect undermines everything we stand for as a country, evidenced by the outrage we saw when the order was first issued. We will not back down. We will continue to fight to protect our families in our communities and in the courts.

Lawrence Benito, chief executive officer of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights:

Today the Supreme Court enables the White House’s hateful and discriminatory agenda. The ruling threatens a core aspect of our national identity and seeks to normalize anti-Muslim discrimination in America.  We will not let this happen.  We support our Muslim brothers and sisters, and all refugees seeking a new home in the United States. Everyone deserves to live in peace, and our friends and allies will not stand down.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice:

Today we are deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court sided with fear while blindly ignoring the hardships faced by refugees and visa seekers. Many Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities have suffered greatly since the first Muslim ban was issued. The administration’s Muslim ban foments disturbing trends of anti-Muslim sentiments within the U.S. and abroad. The Supreme Court should not have allowed any part of the Muslim ban to move forward while this executive order is under review…

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits got it right in declaring the Muslim ban unconstitutional. We will continue to oppose any and all threats to the communities we represent. We will stay vigilant to any future efforts from every part of this administration to ban religious or ethnic communities, including through backdoor policies.

Julieta Garibay, Campaigns Director for United We Dream:

The Muslim ban is another attack to immigrants and people of color by the Trump administration, designed to advance his racist agenda and cast suspicions on people of color.  Whether he is pushing policies or tweeting, it’s clear that Trump’s one obsession is restricting the movement, freedoms and happiness of Black and brown people.”

Today’s Court decision is just round one of this fight and we will continue the fighting until there is #NoMuslimBanEver and until all people demonized by Trump can be safe and thrive.