Travel ban ruling exacerbates divisions over US treatment of foreigners

Caitlyn Sanger (centre), whose father was taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wipes tears outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, on June 26, 2018.
Caitlyn Sanger (centre), whose father was taken by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wipes tears outside the US Supreme Court in Washington, on June 26, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - The Supreme Court's decision to uphold US President Donald Trump's travel ban on Tuesday (June 26) threw fuel on the explosive debate over US immigration policy and treatment of minorities, with many Republicans calling the ruling a validation of their national security efforts and Democrats and advocates condemning it as a historic mistake.

Outrage over the decision was immediately palpable after the ruling among protesters who gathered outside the court and loudly chanted: "No ban, no wall."

Omar Jadwat, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which helped bring one of the travel ban challenges, said in a statement that the decision "will go down in history as one of the Supreme Court's great failures."

But there were congratulations within the Trump administration and among Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have been under attack in recent weeks over the administration's now-suspended policy separating families caught trying to cross into the United States illegally.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whose Justice Department has defended the travel ban against court challenges throughout the country since the president announced the first version shortly after taking office, celebrated the ruling as a "great victory for the safety and security of all Americans."

The president, he said in a statement, has "broad discretion to protect the interests of the United States," and the court's ruling is "critical to ensuring the continued authority of President Trump - and all future presidents - to protect the American people."

The White House issued a statement from the president characterising the court's decision as "a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country."

 
 
 

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., called the ruling a "victory for President Trump's plan to secure the border and strengthen our national security by keeping terrorists out of America.""Today's ruling affirms once and for all that, despite false claims in the media and from the left, this practical policy is squarely within the President's authority," he said in a statement.

Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, took to Twitter to express their outrage.

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., the first Muslim elected to Congress, drew parallels to the most denounced Supreme Court ruling in history in the Dred Scott case that reinforced the notion of slaves as property, not citizens.

"The dustbin of history awaits this one too," Ellison tweeted.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., wrote, "Let's be clear: Religious discrimination is not a national security strategy. Today's decision goes against fundamental American values, and by further damaging our reputation overseas, hurts the national security of the United States.

Muslim Advocates, an organisation that has filed eight lawsuits related to the entry policy, said it was deeply disappointed but called the court battle just "one fight in a broader battle against Trump's anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant agenda."

The travel ban, the group said, has separated and denied people opportunities to work, travel, study, seek better medical care - and will have a ripple effect into other communities.

"This decision puts the basic rights of all Americans at risk. It says that even when an administration is clearly anti-Muslim, when it targets Muslims, when it insults Muslims, and when it puts a policy in place that specifically hurts Muslims - that the Court will let it stand," the group said in a statement.

"If it can happen to Muslims, it can happen to anyone."