Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Legal Expert: Supreme Court Travel Decision Poised To Hit Refugees

Protesters gather near Baggage Claim 1 at Sea-Tac Airport in January 2017

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration to move forward with part of its travel ban while a court case is pending.

The decision came down Monday. This week, legal experts are scrambling to figure out what a partial ban means for immigrants and refugees headed to Washington state.

The Supreme Court says anyone with a “bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States" is not affected for the time being.

Experts say that clearly applies to people hired for jobs, admitted to college, or visiting family. That covers a broad swathe of the people hoping to enter the country.


But some of the details remain hazy.


“Are we going to see the Trump administration balk at a case where an individual has a cousin as opposed to a grandparent?" said Matt Adams, legal director of Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.


"You know, those are still some issues that we need to see some more clarity on.”

One thing that is clear, he said, is that the decision stands to hit refugees especially hard. That's because many refugees don't have family, jobs, or colleges waiting for them in the United States.


"Part of what makes that so devastating is they're already in such dire circumstances," Adams said. "And the other part is that refugees have already gone through, for some of them, literally years of screening and applications." 


It appears those refugees will have to keep waiting until the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on the legality of the travel restrictions, Adams said. The court is expected to hear arguments in October. 


The Trump administration hopes to ban travelers from six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days and refugees from all countries for 120 days as a national security measure.


The executive order has been on hold since March, after legal challenges were filed in Hawaii and Maryland.


The Trump administration revised the policy after a stricter version was put on hold by a federal judge in Seattle, following a legal challenge by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson. 


The initial travel ban caused confusion and protests to erupt at airports across the country in January. Some travelers found they were banned from entering the country only upon landing in the United States.


Adams said he doesn't expect similar complications this time around. That's largely because a majority of travelers aren't affected by the court's partial reinstatement of the ban.


Trump called Monday's decision "a clear victory for our national security," despite the broad classifications of travelers who aren't affected by the decision. 


"My number one responsibility as Commander in Chief is to keep the American people safe," the president said in a news release. "Today's ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation's homeland."



Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, an outspoken opponent of the travel restrictions, said in a statement Monday that "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."


"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," Inslee said.


Related Content