Implementation of a limited version of the Trump administration’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries is “going to be a little messy for the next few months,” says Jorge Barón, director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
After the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Trump administration’s ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries, local leaders said there are questions that still need to be answered and uncertainty around what the ruling will mean.
“It’s going to be a little messy for the next few months,” said Jorge Barón, the executive director of the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP).
But the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case, and the protections it placed on people with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” could be seen as a positive development, too, they added.
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“It’s also an important statement from the Supreme Court that the Trump administration can’t continue to trample on the rights of these people, who have family, who have employment and other ties to the United Sates,” said Matt Adams, NWIRP’s legal director.
“I do think people will probably look at this as a split decision in some ways,” Barón said. “Some people are going to continue traveling and some people will not be.”
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Gov. Jay Inslee, who has vehemently opposed the travel ban, released a statement Monday that reflected the mixed nature of the high court’s ruling.
“A substantial number of people will still be protected as a result of the stay as the Supreme Court’s actions essentially narrowed the travel-ban order. But we know that President Trump has made it clear that his travel ban and refugee policies were never intended to be about thoughtful national security, but instead a way of discriminating against certain people for their cultures and religious beliefs,” Inslee said.
“As the high court considers these cases in full, I hope they will consider the president’s own words, and our nation’s constitutional protections against discrimination.”
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who led a lawsuit that brought a halt to the Trump administration’s first travel-ban order, encouraged Washingtonians to contact his office if they have a relationship with someone denied access to the U.S.
“Although I’m deeply disappointed that the injunctions were narrowed and the travel ban will partly go into effect, the protections that remain are significant,” Ferguson said in a news release.
Uncertainty over how the government will apply the ban could play out again at airports and other points of entry into the country, Barón said.
“The concern I have is the line drawing exactly how people are going to establish they meet the criteria to come to the U.S.,” Barón said. “Whether we might have people who get here and the Customs and Border Protection folks in the airport might be questioning them about their ties — and be in the situation again of having people turned back at the airport.”
Barón said NWIRP has been in contact with legal volunteers, who are on “standby” should intervention be needed at the airport or elsewhere. NWIRP has also contacted airport officials and members of the refugee-resettlement community.
The Trump administration has indicated the ban would take effect 72 hours after the Supreme Court ruling.
“I think we have a little bit of time. We don’t think the ruling will be implemented for a couple days now,” Barón said.
Barón said he hoped the administration would publicize how it planned to determine who had sufficient ties to the United States to be allowed into the country.
“I think the people who may not be able to travel now would be coming here on pure tourism,” Barón said. “Other folks who have been offered employment or reunified with a family member … reviewing the Supreme Court decision, those folks should be able to come in.”
Most of the people the NWIRP have worked with in recent months would qualify for entry under the Supreme Court’s restrictions, Barón said.
“We did, at the airport, work with a gentleman attending a convention. That would be the middle ground,” Barón said. “Those are the situations I’m worried will come up again at the airport, and they’re turned back because they are not considered to have enough ties to the U.S.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington said in a news release it believed “the majority of people potentially affected by the ban will be able to enter the country.”
The organization added, “We will be monitoring the situation closely to make sure those who are entitled to entry in fact are able to make it into the U.S.”
Under the Trump administration’s revised executive order, anyone who has already obtained a visa should be allowed to travel, Barón said.
He said NWIRP is concerned about the refugee community.
“If you’re a refugee, in order to be covered by the injunction, you have to show you have ties here to the U.S. That’s a part of the ruling that really concerns us,” Barón said. “The government has identified them as being at risk for persecution in their home countries … and now they’re being left out.”
Arsalan Bukhari, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington state, said many Muslims plan vacation travel beginning in late June because of summer and the recent conclusion of Ramadan. He expects a chilling effect on travel by Muslims for pleasure. Business travelers working in the U.S., he expects, will be reticent, too.
“They don’t want to risk being in a foreign country, because they were sent to a meeting with vendors or suppliers, and be apart from their families,” he said.
Because of the confusion that surrounded the original travel ban, Bukhari said many will fear not being able to re-enter the country because of lingering distrust, even after the Supreme Court narrowed the order.
“The way the last one played out is the cause for concern,” he said. “Regardless of the details … it targets them (Muslims).”
Bukhari said CAIR will hold informational sessions in the coming weeks to help people understand the legal implications of the narrowed travel ban.
The organization is encouraging Muslims concerned about re-entering the United States to use airportlawyer.org, an online tool designed to alert volunteer lawyers if travelers are in need of legal help. The tool was developed in Seattle during the last wave of travel-ban confusion, Bukhari said.
Bukhari said he’s already received phone calls from concerned Muslims. He says the order, no matter how much it’s been narrowed by the court, still stigmatizes Muslims.
“Because it targets a religious group, it’s un-American,” Bukhari said. “We foresee, when the Supreme Court does have a chance to give this thought and make a final decision, they’ll find this unconstitutional.”