The heavily publicized travel ban, which placed entry restrictions on citizens entering the United States from eight foreign states, was upheld by the Supreme court in a 5-4 decision. This controversial travel ban, which targeted Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela, was issued by the President. Much criticism stems from the fact that the ban targets predominantly Muslim countries. In response, the state of Hawaii sued, arguing that the ban violated its state Constitution as it established religion in the state. They also argued that the ban would damage Hawaii’s “economy, educational institutions and tourism industry,” and create discrimination. In the case of Trump v. Hawaii, the travel ban was justified by the fact that it was necessary to prevent the entry immigrants about whom the United States Government lacks “sufficient information” and  create “improved identity-management and information-sharing protocols and practices,”. While Chad had previously been included in the targeted countries, the President determined that the restrictions would no longer apply after a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) review determined that Chad had improved its practices. This review period will continue to cover a period of 180 days and determine whether entry restriction should be lifted or changed.



The Plaintiff, which included the state of Hawaii, three individuals with foreign relatives affected by the entry suspension, and the Muslim Association of Hawaii, argued that the travel ban should be lifted as it exceeds the authority granted to the President in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. However, the Supreme Court upheld the ban.


Regarding the the matter of presidential authority, the Court decided that because the language in the INA stated that the president could “suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens” whenever he finds that their entry “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” the president had the authority to issue the travel ban. The ban was determined to be a matter of national security due to the data collected by the DHS, which showed that the targeted countries had “deficient information-sharing practices,”, justifying the need for the travel ban.


Regarding the violation of the First Amendment, the Plaintiff believes that the ban discriminates against Muslims. The Court decided that since the ban was based on legitimate reasons, religion was not expressly mentioned in the ban, the ban did not emphasize the Muslim population of the targeted countries and that the ban was issued for the purpose of national security it passed the rational basis review, allowing the ban to be upheld.



The Supreme Court decision will have a major impact on the eight countries and on the United States. The ban limits the flow of refugees and immigrants into the United States, placing a cap of fifty thousand refugees. Syria, in particular, faces an indefinite ban that prevents any refugee from entering the United States. Since immigration from the listed countries is suspended, neither immigrant nor non-immigrant immigrant visas will be issued. In special circumstances such as medical cases, the persecution of minorities and ‘bona fide’ relatives of U.S. citizens, case-by-case waivers will be issued. Within the United States, the travel ban has sparked conflict over the perceived injustices that the ban creates. Some believe that the ban sets a precedent of religious preference that goes against the First Amendment, sending a message that opposes cultural diversity while emboldening the current administration’s platform.


For any assistance regarding legal immigration matters, contact an immigration law firm.

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